...that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful," says Brother David Steindt-Rast. I'm reading this book called "Ruthless Trust" by this guy named Brennan Manning. Tonight I was reading about gratefulness, and realized I often lack the fruit of the Spirit known as joy, and maybe (just maybe), the reason for this may have some correlation to the fact that I forget to be grateful...
As Manning puts it, we often forget "the way of gratefulness." And it is "a way" I think, it's a way of living, especially as a follower of Jesus. And if being a follower means doing what the person you're following is doing, being grateful is pretty much demanded of us seeing as how Jesus was always giving thanks to God.
The chapter was talking about how it's hard to have a heart of gratitude when we seem to be getting the screw job in life. For example, when your interior life sucks, or when your marriage is falling apart, or when someone dies, or when you just feel like a no good loser.
As I was thinking about this, and as I was thinking about how we often get pissed off at God during these circumstances ( at least how I often get ticked at God during these circumstances), I was reminded of a guy in my small group who was sharing about a hard circumstance in his life.
His dad had died some years ago, and if that wasn't bad enough, his mom's health was failing, slowly but surely...she was now losing her eyesight at this particular time, and he was sharing the heartache he felt when he saw struggling to do everyday normal tasks. After he was done sharing, he said something so profound, I knew right it was something that is true and right. He said, "I've come to the point where I realize that God owes me nothing." Those are virtually the same words God speaks to Job after Job's life falls apart on him and he tries to find meaning in all of it... something in my spirit finds freedom in those words, a freedom I can't fully explain.
So, I must remember this when I am in despair, when I am in the darkness, when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, when my interior life sucks, when things just don't seem to add up in our human equation of fairness...
Listen to these hopeful words, spoken by Brennan Manning,
To be grateful for unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness. (Manning, Ruthless Trust, 37)