Thank you! That’s what you are supposed to say on this day, right?
Well, yes. But do we actually mean it?
So often, we get stuck on the things that have gone wrong. Well, maybe I should say, I as a pessimist/realist get stuck on those things. Maybe optimists don’t have this problem. The point is, it is easy to look at the negative side of life. It is easy to see ways we failed, or ways that we think God has failed us.
But God taught me an important lesson a few years ago—one I often forget. I was mad at him and hurt because of circumstances in my life. One day as I was praying, I poured out that anger to him and asked him for comfort. In that moment, I felt like I needed to thank him for what I did have. I decided to thank him for my body: my toes and feet that allowed me to walk, my legs that let me run, my lungs that drew in oxygen and exhaled what I didn’t need, etc.
As I praised him and thanked him for what I did have, the anger melted away and what I saw instead was his goodness and his faithfulness, even though things seemed bleak.
This concept of praising and giving thanks, even when we don’t feel like it, is quite a common theme in the Bible. I was struck again by that this week as I read Psalm 13:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.”
Sometimes mission work feels like the beginning of this psalm. Sometimes it is easy to feel lost, forgotten, like God called you to something and left you there alone. Sometimes it feels like the enemy is winning.
But the truth is that God is working. He moves in ways we can’t always see. He overcomes. He saves. He is faithful.
And so, my response to him today, and I hope everyday, will be one of thanksgiving. I will thank him for showing up tangibly in those who support us serving in Hungary. I will thank him for small victories and big ones. I will thank him when I see him and when I don’t, trusting that he is present and working all the same.