I am finding that our English language is full of words that start with D that are hard to be thankful for. Even aside from all the words that start with dis- or de- (disease, disaster, depression), there are dirt, darkness, dread, and death. For some people, the list of unpleasant words might include dandruff, diet, draft, or even dentist. Many of us struggle with debt, and some of my (now former) co-workers are dealing with the effects of downsizing. And it’s not easy for any of us to be thankful for difficulty, disappointment, danger, or doubt.
Yet 1 Thessalonians 5:18 instructs us to “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” When I was a young Christian, I thought this meant I was supposed to be thankful for all things – I don’t know if this was what pastors and teachers had actually said or just the impression I got. It was somewhat of a relief to learn later that I can be thankful in all circumstances without being thankful for all the bad things that happen.
Not that that makes it easy. There are a lot of people who are very disappointed with the defeat of their candidate in yesterday’s election. My husband predicts “four years of hell that will take us a generation to recover from.” One commenter at WorldMagBlog expects homeschooling to be outlawed, and she and others expect restrictions on speech to whittle away our First Amendment rights.
I hope they are overreacting, but whether they are or not, we are still called to be thankful in our current circumstances. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24). Ah, there’s a good D word – day! Every day is a new day, full of new opportunities and new blessings. My mother used to have a small placard that said “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” Our worship leader at church often reminds us that “today is a day that’s never been used before.”
Of course, along with possible delights, every day also brings demands on our time and energy, decisions to make, delays in getting what we desire, and often detours into disagreeable territory. I need to pray for determination and diligence in doing what needs to be done, and discernment when faced with difficult decisions.
And I need to pray for a thankful heart, and choose to give thanks even when I don’t really feel very thankful.
Oh, and by the way, I am thankful for my sister, whose birthday is today. Happy Birthday, Margaret! (I tried and tried to think of a D word for her, but I finally had to desist.)