I know that one day I will look back on my life and see how everything that happened “worked together for good.” I will stand with God and honestly say, “Thank you for how you did it. Even that part I hated. I see now all the good you created because of it. I’m so glad you did it that way.”
Of course, that’s one day.
Today it sucks.
But what if there was a way to get past the suck into some of that ‘one day’ perspective?
I think there is.
I’m learning to say “thank you” now.
Thank you for the things I don’t like. Thank you for the bad things, the awful things, the terrible things that you have allowed into my life. Thank you for the pain I feel, for the mysteries I can’t solve, for the suffering I hate. Thank you for my job ending, my marriage dying, my children hurting, my dinner burning.
At first, I wrestled with the theology of thanking God for bad things, but then I realised it was just a shortcut past accepting that He ‘lets’ it happen. It goes straight into, “I know you’re doing something good, even in this.”
When I say thank you, something lets go in me. I stop resisting.
Thanking God for the bad stuff automatically shifts my perspective. I can see God’s hand in the thing that, moments before, was only awful. Now it is part of something bigger, something good that I can’t see yet.
Before ‘thank you’, I stand alone facing an ogre: an evil, violent thing that wants to hurt me.
When I say thank you, the focus widens and I see that the ogre and I are both part of a Story that God is writing: a story with a happy ending.
Sometimes when I say thank you I am still mad at God. I don’t like the way he is writing the story.
I have found that it works anyway. Angry surrender is still surrender. The act of thanking is itself a form of repentance. I spit it out and it reaches back to change me. As the word echoes in the air around me, or I see it there on the page where I wrote it, it begins its magic transformation of my understanding, and I am softened.
It’s not a magic spell, though. I can’t just say the words. I need to be deliberate about it. I need to think about what I am doing when I thank him. Often, I have a mental image of my hand clenched and then opening to reveal my heart there, exposed to whatever it is I am thanking him for. Ready for him to do what he wants.
Saying thank you is an exercise of trust, and it’s what he is waiting for.
From here, He can make miracles.