If Facebook is any indicator, November is the month for public gratitudes. My feed is filled with posts expressing thanks for wonderful spouses, loving children, inspiring parents, great jobs, etc. Often the person posting expresses the thought that these blessings help them know that God loves them.
One of my favorite books, The Hiding Place, includes a story about Corrie and her sister in Ravensbrück concentration camp. Corrie’s sister reminds her that they need to thank God in all things, to which Corrie replies that she can’t be grateful for the fleas. But her sister prevails and they thank God for the fleas. Later they find that the fleas are what keeps the guards out of their barracks allowing them to share the comfort of the gospel with the other women.
I don’t think anyone would feel grateful for any part of a concentration camp and feel that this was evidence that God loved them. But Corrie and her sister did because they were obedient to that commandment to be grateful in all things. So in that spirit, I share a few of the “fleas” in my life.
I’m grateful for children who have been challenging to parent … Despite the many tears I’ve shed and the worry I’ve felt, the experience has taught me so much about loving like Christ does, about being patient in afflictions, about forgiveness, about compassion for those who are struggling.
I’m grateful for the death of my spouse … Amid the grief and loneliness, I’ve felt the sustaining support of God in the hands of so many of His children who have loved me and mourned with me and supported me. I’ve discovered just how much I love Tom and how much of who I am is because of our relationship. I’ve gained a hard won understanding of how death changes life and how I can better succor those who are also grieving a loved one.
I’m grateful for being single again … It has forced me to reach out to others more, to leave my comfort zone and make new friends and try new things. It has made me appreciate the challenges of living without a partner in ways I didn’t understand before.
Theses are big things, but I feel challenged to find gratitude in the little things as well. Can I be grateful for a traffic jam? For an obnoxious customer that I have to listen to at work? For a car repair? In this month of Thanksgiving when there are so many good things to be grateful for, I want to try a little harder to be grateful for everything (good and bad). I want to thank God, trusting that He has a plan for my life and happiness even when I can’t see it. Happy Thanksgiving!