“Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.” Psalm 98:4
I started numbering my blessings after I read Ann Voskamp’s book, “One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are”. But I had to stop when I ended up in the hospital for three weeks without my journal. I think I was up to 9,000 plus when I stopped. Every day, I start with counting my blessings, but now, I write them on my iPad. There is always plenty to thank God for even on days when there is bad news or some horrible disaster.
I have learned not to take things for granted. There was a time I could not eat, nor talk because I had so many mouth sores. Then there were those months I had to wear those thick, hot, ugly compression stockings. Now I am still on oxygen. My foot is still healing and I have to walk very very carefully. The fact that we can walk, even carefully, that we can remember things, that we are able to love, forgive, get excited, smile, we should never, never take that for granted. We should wake up every morning and praise and thank God if our husband and children are safe, healthy in body and mind, interested in life, and we have a home and a roof over our heads. So many, myriads of things we have to thank God for! His gifts are endless!
A friend on Facebook started her list with thankfulness for coffee. My list doesn’t even contain the word coffee. Yet. Or chocolates! Salmon sushi! My son’s paella and Napoleones! I like the way Ann Voskamp writes, and speaks. “How,” she wondered, “do we find joy in the midst of deadlines, debt, drama, and daily duties? What does a life of gratitude look like when your days are gritty, long, and sometimes dark? What is God providing here and now?” When she started chronicling life’s gifts, it was transformative.
She starts her storytelling when she is four years old and already enveloped in grief. Her little sister Aimee was crushed by a delivery truck with a heavy load when she wandered close after a cat. The driver sobbed that he had not seen her and her mom had witnessed it all with a blood curdling scream. How do you get through something like that?
“Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights... where is God really? How can He be good when babies die, and marriages implode, and dreams blow away, dust in the wind? Where is grace bestowed when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches and nameless places in us soundlessly die...Where hides this joy of the Lord, this God who fills the earth with good things, and how do I live fully when life is full of hurt?” Many ask these questions. Years can pass and sometimes there are no answers.
For Ann the answer came in “eucharisteo”, thanksgiving which has as its root word, “charis” meaning grace, “chara” meaning joy. “Deep joy can only be found at the table of euCHARisteo, the table of thanksgiving. As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”
Lord, may I remember everyday to give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving, especially especially during dark days.