Week’s end with thanks in the wake of recent events…

by Kari on December 16, 2012

I’ve been at a loss for how to do this week’s end with thanks. On the one hand, I am overflowing with circumstantial things to be thankful for.  They go like this …

  • Hikes and Daddy Day and a wonderful week with my kids.
  • The house we live in (rent) SOLD this week! Perfect timing for us moving and for the people who own this house, and the dear couple moving in, and for us. Excited for all three parties!
  • Packing. As much as I don’t love moving, I do love organizing everything, tossing, purging, and cleaning out closets. It’s a great feeling and I’m grateful for it!
  • God turning another publisher rejection into another opportunity to praise, grow, learn. VERY excited to be putting out TWO e-books very soon, just in time for Christmas, and excited to give one to YOU.
  • Great friends.
  • Homemade pizza.
  • Discovering new friends who are “weird” just like us. That’s so fun!

On the other hand, this week was one of unspeakable tragedy. The shootings at Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary have us in constant prayer for those dozens of families who have lost loved ones this week.

It seems, in response, there are two ways to thank in the wake of this weeks’s events.  

One, we can thank God that it didn’t happen to us. This is very natural. I am absolutely thankful that I tucked my children into bed last night. That as I type these words my son is playing with Legos right beside me. That my daughter is snuggling in bed with daddy. I watched them sleep last night, their tiny chests rising and falling, and couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude that they are still here.

But, our thanks can get deeper (and better) than that.

See, so often our (my) thanks just stays there. Though it’s natural, and normal, all it is essentially is: “Thank you, God, that that person’s suffering isn’t mine. That you that that didn’t happen to me.” In some ways (though not as pridefully), it’s like the Pharisee’s pray of thanks in Luke 18:

“‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.”

It’s only an itty-bitty step up (if at all) to merely thank God that we aren’t experiencing the horror and pain that other people are. And although we’d never purposefully put it that way, if we aren’t careful we will naturally become people who merely thank God when bad stuff doesn’t happen to us.

So this week, I’ve been thinking about how to thank God in ways that are deeper, better, truer, than simply, “Thank you that my children are still alive!” I’m not pretending that’s not in my heart, but here are things I’m thankful for beyond that, in light of everything this week:

  • That God is in control of every single moment and every single event and that nothing is outside His sovereign power.
  • That God WILL right every wrong and bring absolutely justice to every situation and every person on earth, in the end.
  • That God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
  • That God has a special love for children.
  • That every single one of those precious children, I believe, are safely tucked into the arms of Jesus.
  • That, I believe, God will use this tragedy to draw many to Himself, first and foremost the parents of those who were killed. Praying and believing that!!
  • That perhaps, I pray, these atrocities will awaken our nation to the reality of evil and show us the natural outcome of a culture that celebrates sin and death. Please God, open our eyes. Turn us back to You.
  • That the gospel, our faith, rests entirely on God bringing the greatest good out of the most horrific tragedy of all time. NOTHING is so terrible that God cannot bring it to good. He showed us that on the cross and He can do that today.
As we continue to process this week’s events, we weep with those who weep, pray for comfort, and thank God for who He is: Unchanging, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Emmanuel–God with us. Thanks for reading.