Thanks for something

I’m guessing that you are better at gratitude than I am.

(I’m thankful for false modesty.)Road

Whenever I consider teaching or talking about gratitude, I worry. I know that we will eventually get to a statement Paul writes to one of his churches which says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

And then someone will say, “But how can I give thanks in that situation?”

(I’m thankful for my sympathetic imagination)

And we will enumerate possible exclusions and commiserate about the challenges and we will excoriate Paul’s false optimism or impossible standards.

(I’m thankful for big and precise words)

But before I went too far down that road, I started from the other end. What if we started with “be thankful in at least some circumstances?”

(I’m thankful for imagination.)

Some of us struggle with “all” statements. And we decide that we will do nothing. If we can’t always rejoice, we won’t rejoice at all. If we can pray always, we won’t pray at all. If we can’t give thanks for everything, we won’t give thanks at all.

(I’m thankful that you aren’t in this category.)

I wonder if we could start following Paul’s directions by going for a solid C+. I’ll work at rejoicing 78% of the time. Or praying. Or giving thanks.

I can’t rejoice about the Cubs loss, but I can rejoice that I am loved by people who are incredibly patient with me. I can’t pray all the time, but every time I see sky I can thank God for breath. And I can be thankful in 79% of circumstances and can pray constantly in the other 21%.

(I’m thankful that God is one of the people who loves me and is patient with me.)


About Jon Swanson

Social media chaplain. Author of "Lent For Non-Lent People" and "A Great Work: A Conversation With Nehemiah For People (Who Want To Be) Doing Great Works." Writer of I help people understand. Understand some of the Bible. Understand what Lent can be about. Understand what it means to follow.

2 thoughts on “Thanks for something

  1. Your thoughts reminded me of the book The Way of the Pilgrim where the Russian peasant, having lost everything but his Bible in a fire, wanders the countryside trying to obey Paul’s thought to pray constantly.

    As for me, I have an alert in my To Do List app that reminds me to be grateful. Otherwise, I’d get busy and forget. (I’m grateful for tools that help me get better.)


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