I started reading a book called “One Thousand Gifts” at the beginning of 2012. At first Voskamp’s writing seemed a bit choppy and scattered to me. She was a little difficult to follow and I almost put the book down altogether. But something kept me reading. Slowly but surely, I worked my way into her words, into her thoughts and the deepest parts of her heart. The title “one thousand gifts” refers to a challenge the author was given to make a list of 1,000 things for which she was grateful. What she discovered along the way was that as she thanked God even for the simplest of things, she was given gifts of joy. This thankfulness (as she refers to as eucharisteo) was the doorway for her to live a full and satisfied life no matter where or what she was doing.
“Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle.” I don’t know about you, but I am in need of a miracle (a few actually). I am not too ashamed or prideful to say this has been a hard season in my life, a season precipitated with many tears. Can it just be over? I want to be happy again! I know this trial is for my benefit and all things will work together for my good, but I have had enough! Please just make it sunny again.. I cannot handle much more rain.
And then I am reminded of eucharisteo… I start thanking, literally out loud thanking God for the simplest and even silliest of things – like the fact that my hot chocolate did not burn my tongue… or that the stars are shining just for me (thanks Coldplay)… And sometimes, I don’t feel better. But I keep thanking anyways! And soon I am thanking Him for the very trial in my life that is causing me grief. I thank Him for the very part of my life that is causing me pain. And slowly, sometimes suddenly, I start to feel it creeping up inside of me…joy. The pain seems to go away for awhile and I have new hope and I literally and whole-heartedly AM thankful for the trial, for the test, for the tears. Because I KNOW that it is for my benefit. Even though I do not understand it or see it, it WILL all work out for my good. And it WILL all work out for your good too! I pinky promise.
In March (inspired by Voskamp’s rather poetic writing), I began writing in my journal. Let me preface this by telling you I am probably the worst poet on the planet. Ask my middle school friends about “Procrastination”… seriously, BAD! But somehow as the thoughts flowed out of my heart and onto my paper, they formed somewhat of a poem. I read it back to myself almost in disbelief. I have had it hidden in my journal for seven months now, but I think tonight – on Thanksgiving, it would be appropriate to share with all of you…
Mind you, I am NOT claiming to be a poet. But I do hope these words encourage someone tonight.
Joy, perhaps one of the greatest gifts of all, a gift from the Father.
Not one which can be achieved, only received.
By drawing near to Him in EVERY circumstance of life.
By thanking Him at ALL times, through times of peace and times of strife.
But in strife? How can we give thanks? And even more, how can we have joy?
For is not strife of the enemy? a decoy? a ploy?
to draw us away, away from our Lord?
Silly Satan, what you don’t know is this:
God works through all things, even Judas’s kiss.
He’s in all things:
good & bad
war & peace
laughter & tears…
He’s in all of these.
Then what is the answer? How do we have joy in the midst of our pain?
We learn to give thanks in the smallest of things!
For the crackle of the heater on a cold winter night,
For a cool summer rain when the sun’s shining bright.
One by one, thanks by thanks, more of His joy and more of His grace.
We’re faithful in the little things, we’ll be faithful amidst the strife.
We practice and practice and when the time comes,
the inevitable, the pain..our faith won’t go numb!
We’ll thank Him in the death and the pain like we thanked Him for the cool summer rain and unspeakable JOY we will claim,
in His holy matchless name,