Abundant cause for gratitude

June 6, 2001
Blue Journal

“And if you have nothing more to thank God for than that He bears with you and spares you and waits for you and is so utterly forbearing about all your unruly ways, which never give Him a chance to achieve all His great designs in you, surely in this alone, you have abundant cause for gratitude.”  (John Tauler)

“The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.”

How do I give thanks even in suffering?

I shifted my weight and paper crackled under me. My chest constricted, my eyes sagged and my mind tangled like an old cobweb.

The doctor looked up, “There’s hope for guys your age, this isn’t unusual.” I doubted that and continued rocking back and forth.

I come back to that room in my mind a lot. The room with the asylum just a doctor’s note away.

My father sat across from me, a steadying presence. My wife held my hand, scared. I rocked with chronic anxiety and depression. My fears had distended into sleepless nights, sweaty sheets and a sick and hopeless heart.

The walls of my life closed in when I was just 23, newly married and a grad student – and I wanted out. In the basement of my parents’ house I cursed God.

With tears carelessly wiped and flung, my fists pounded the bed. I yelled my pain into pillows. I screamed at God, scared he’d leave me.

He didn’t leave. He never intended to.

Fourteen years later, I still struggle with anxiety, but the doctor was right. There is hope. It’s the practice of giving thanks.

There’s a book I always go back to, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. A friend dared her to write 1,000 things she was thankful for in a year. A mother of six and farmer’s wife, Voskamp finds epiphanies around every corner.

The smallest thing, like the way sunlight hits grated cheese, fills her with happiness.

As a guy, I picked up the book skeptically. The cover shows a pair of hands holding a nest with robin eggs and a background just a touch lighter than “Lady Finger Beige”. Yes, I had to research that color, as well as how to spell “beige”.

But this line slashed through my skepticism: “I enter the world like every person enters the world: with clenched fists.”

You can read the rest here.


This is a great piece!

Learning to Give Thanks

November 26, 2013 By  

After my father’s death, about a dozen years ago, I picked up the habit of asking my mother to call or e-mail me the minute she and Bob return from an out-of-town trip. It doesn’t matter whether their itinerary includes a flight across the Atlantic or a drive across the George Washington Bridge. Like many Manhattanites, the two of them seem like rare flowers that draw their sustenance from concrete, so it’s a stretch to imagine them transplanting themselves, even for a few hours, without inviting disaster.

Both of them play along. My mother’s cooperation, I always assumed, came with a certain pride that I’d inherited her nerves of glass. One evening when I was about 14, I stepped into the hall to find her sprawled in front of the bathroom door like Maderno’s St. Cecilia. “You left your underwear on top of the laundry bag,” she hissed. “Again.” A few months later, on my first day of high school I wrote, “TODAY, I AM CAST INTO THE PIT” on a sheet of legal paper and taped it to the refrigerator door. Or so she swears. Shared neurosis was what made our little apartment feel like a home.

Over the years, my mother and Bob have turned into first-class world travelers. One year it’s Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, the next it’s Agra and Delhi. They send back digital slideshows of themselves caked with Dead Sea mud, or beaming over bowls of fried crickets as fish nibble the dead skin from their feet. They synchronized their slides of Brazil to Django Reinhardt and published the video over their own YouTube channel, so tens of thousands of people have seen them dressed as a Candomblé priest and priestess.

But this new adventuresome spirit failed to register with me until yesterday afternoon, after she and Bob had gotten back visiting her Uncle Butch in Hamilton Township. “Guess what?” she asked. “Bob and I didn’t get to see Uncle Butch, but we got to take a very exciting ride in a tow truck.”

You can read the delightful rest here.

“Never, never did He not hear.”

I just had to dig Amy Carmichael out today to look for something of hers to share.  She just has such a wonderful way of saying things and hitting the nail right on the head.

Ps 116.1 I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplications.

As we look back on past years,  they are full of memories of great sorrows and great joys also.  If I were asked to give the sum of the years in a sentence I would write this: I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplications.  Never, never did He not hear.  Never was He far away.

It will be the same with you.  Just now you are in the midst of the pressure of life.  One thing follows another so closely that you have hardly time to think, hardly time to realize how much you are being helped.  But looking back, it will be different.  If there have been sorrows, you will see how marvelous His lovingkindness was.  If there have been joys, it will be the same.  If the time held just one steady round of service it will still be the same.  Every day, every hour will seem to you than as if these words were written across it: I love the Lord because He has heard.

So love Him now, rejoice in Him now, however things are because it is true today–He hears your voice and your supplications.