I have recently started a devotional by Ann Voskamp called “One Thousand Gifts,” which I am sure many of you are familiar with. I haven’t read the book she wrote, but instead started with this devotional. It has been a good reminder to me of why thankfulness even in times when it is so hard to give thanks.
I have been thinking lately about soldiers being on the battlefield and how each day must be so hard, each day requires you to find a way to continue to go on. These thoughts have come to me more since watching some hard stuff with a family close to me related to their adoption. I have also watched my husband go to work each day in what feels like a current war. I know in many ways the way he views his job has not changed, he has always been on a battlefield, but it hasn’t been until recently that it has touched our family in a deeper way, we are at war. We are at war in our communities, we are at war in families working to heal children through early trauma, we are at war in our country with sin rearing its ugly head in so many instances. This devotional has given me a refreshing reminder at what God gives us to combat the yuck, the hard … the battle.
Thankfulness can sometimes feel forced, it can feel counter intuitive to what each day brings. How do you give thanks when you have a combative child, fighting within themselves, just trying to survive all the while behaving in a way that tears you down as a parent? How do you give thanks when you are responding to yet another domestic violence call that ends just like the last with all parties not being happy that you have arrived to help them? I am reminded that giving thanks is often about sacrifice. It isn’t often about a feeling of thankfulness but an act of sacrifice. Ann shares in this devotional. “To bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving means to sacrifice our understanding of what is beneficial and thank God for everything because He is benevolent. A sacrifice of thanks lays down our perspective and raises hands in praise anyway – always. A sacrifice, is by definition, not an easy thing – but it is a sacred thing. There is this: We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of who He is.”
What a good reminder. Shifting our mind to thanksgiving isn’t always about feeling thankful in that moment, it is about sacrificing our feeling to the knowledge that God is always good, God is always faithful. Sometimes I cannot see how something is good, but I believe that God will take what I see as not good, and He may use it for good. I have to be honest, giving thanks right now, in this battlefield, can be so hard. It is sometimes an act that is not based in feeling thankful, but rather a sacrifice for our good God. He is good even when the battle is hard.