In All Things

Syria.  Chemical Weapons.  9/11.  Putin.  Unemployment Rate.  People persecuted.  Rising costs of food, housing and education.  Rodman in North Korea.  

Syria, from cnn.com

Syria, from cnn.com

There’s this scripture that says to be thankful in all circumstances.

I’ve often read it with a big fat “Seriously?!” response.  “All circumstances” includes too much...way too much.  There’s just so much sad out there that it’s all I can do not to post a bunch of puppy pictures, or a video of the Crimson Tide’s latest touchdown just to make us all feel better.  

I once heard a pastor explain that scripture by comparing a bad circumstance to getting cut in line at Wal-Mart.  That’s a bit rich, western world shallow when ALL actually involves disease, horrific poverty, and every evil people do to one another from here to China and back.  Needless to say, I never set foot inside that church again and continued my search to understand gratitude in heartache.

I guess I still don’t fully get it.  But I have learned that focusing completely on all the bad, makes you miserable...especially the bad you can’t change.  Especially the bad in the people you can’t change.  

That disease you can’t heal.  That way of thinking you can’t turn.  That addiction you can’t stop.

And when I make a deliberate point of being thankful for her laughter, instead of angry at the tumor, something inside me is lifted.  Some dark places get a sliver of light.

Maybe that’s what joy in all things is about.  Not a command to suck it up from a self-loving, needy god.  But a blessing to give your battered mind and soul a small break in the storm.

I’m thankful we care enough about the atrocities of war to fight over what to do about it.  I’m thankful to live in a country who wants to remember those lost.  I’m thankful we’ve been around for more than 200 years and our presidents still have to step down at the end of their terms.  I have sincere gratitude for people creating jobs and caring for those without food and shelter.  I’m extremely grateful the government saw fit to pay for my four years at the University of Alabama.  

And I guess I’m thankful someone is talking to that crazy dude in North Korea.