One thing I’ve heard often is that Christians ought to be very grateful people. Of course, we should, but the problem is that sometimes our fake smile “gratefulness” is just a cover for being too scared or too holy to admit wretched pain. In fact, if anything in our lives go awry, there are usually two responses put forth as helps, usually from people who have not suffered the same bruises, but sometimes to ourselves as well:
And there is it: case closed. But really? These things are not untrue, but sometimes those responses feel more like a pat on the head or fuel for the fire instead of a healing balm.
Did you have a child die? Well, give thanks for the time you had. Did you discover your husband visiting a strip club? Well, be thankful it wasn’t with a real woman. Did you go bankrupt and lose your home? Don’t worry; God will turn it around for good. Did you lose a leg? Chin up, you still have one more!
The message I’m afraid is much more than earnest Biblical support. It is akin to “buck up, smile, and get over it”. Why? Because any other response: compassion, listening, weeping….those seem unspiritual and therefore cowardly, not to mention time consuming and inconvenient. And if we have a healthy fear of the Lord, there is a part of us that preaches the same to ourselves as well.
But is it never proper to feel fear? Anger? Sadness? Do times of seeming “ungrateful” indeed make you unfaithful, fallen, a failure? If so, then lay my tombstone next to David, because I am as much a wretch, but not nearly as poetic. His emotions were never stuffed or patronized; he had enough FAITH to trust God to know his heart and hear his pain, even as he couldn’t gratefully say at the time “thank you” for all of the running around, death threats and betrayals. Can you image one of his friends slapping him on the back in the midst of his fearful trial and saying (if they had this then), “Buddy…dude…Romans 8:28…(slap slap)”.
Spending time talking it out, moving through fear, dealing with anger, and weeping in grief, does NOT mean you are “ungrateful”. It means there are wounds to be tended to, and just because they aren’t worse or may not be as deep as someone else’s in more dire circumstances doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t still there and just as real.
Are you in trial? Walk through it as tenderly as you can, knowing that the Lord does not forsake you even when you are throwing an inner tantrum or can’t stop from crying. Do you know someone in trial? Give them empathy, compassion, give them an ear, give them your time, prayers and attention.
The man outside the gate Beautiful had to be healed before he was able to get up in gratitude and walk and leap and praise God. And sometimes, that is true of us, too. Fear not, little sparrow, but rest in the Savior and trust Him to make you whole in His time.
You can read more thoughts on gratefulness this week at other High Five Mom posts. Tell them I sent you!
Grateful for His mercy,