a priest's musings on the journey

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sermonette: On Giving Thanks

It's fairly easy to be thankful when life is good. When there is peace and prosperity, when one is in good health, when one feels loved and valued, when every day is filled with joy and happiness. It's not so easy to offer a "thanks be to God" when there is war and famine, when one is ill, when one feels lonely and unappreciated, when every day is filled with depression and despair. Some of the most mysterious words for me in the Scriptures are found in the Pauline admonition to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In everything? How can this be? How can I be thankful in the midst of a divorce, or in the doctor's office when I have been diagnosed with a terminal illness? How can I be thankful when I have been unemployed for 6 months, or when I really don't know how I will find my next meal? How can I be thankful in the midst of suffering, pain, and despair?

I don't have a neat theological answer for how one is able to offer thanks to God in the midst of great suffering and loss; but, I do know from my own experience that I have found myself repeating the prayer of Blessed Job, "the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away; Blessed be the Name of the Lord." And strangely, those words have been a conduit of grace for me. I don't know how it happens, but when I "by faith" (I suppose) offer thanks to God, the Holy Spirit suddenly makes me aware of the things in my life with which I truly am blessed! I am inspired to offer more thanks; and, I feel God near me and with me. I sense God suffering with me, and loving me and caring for me. How can I not be thankful when Mother Jesus is holding me in his arms like a Parent holds a child who is huritng?

In everything give thanks, because in everything God is present, loving, healing, restoring, and redeeming. In every thing give thanks, because God will never abandon us to our fears and desparations. In everything give thanks, because we belong to God and "our lives are hid with Christ in God, and "nothing will ever separate us from the love of God." In everything gives thanks, because in Christ we have overcome; Christ has triumphed! He has joined our sufferings to his, and sanctifies our sufferings for the sake of the redemption of the world.

Praise, you servants of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord.

Blessed be the name of the Lord both now and forever.

From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.

High above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens God's glory.

Who is like the Lord, our God enthroned on high, looking down on heaven and earth?

The Lord raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap, seats them with princes, the princes of the people, gives the childless wife a home, the joyful mother of children.


Psalm 113
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 4:40 PM


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