Saturday, August 27, 2016

Is there ANYTHING to be Thankful for?

Life can be tough. In fact, it WILL be tough as God said to our ancestors in the Garden:
To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3.16-19)
With a guarantee from God Himself of struggle and pain, it can be difficult to find something for which we are thankful. Day after day we go to work (not surprisingly called ‘the grindstone’) and we are faced with unrealistic challenges from management, self-serving competitiveness in our coworkers, and we all know at least one of the ‘can’t follow the rules’ type of customers who take their bad day out on us. Everywhere we turn, life continues to throw us a curve ball, so we ask ourselves, “Is there ANYTHING to be thankful for in this life?”

Tomorrow is Sunday, and the Church celebrates the Divine Liturgy, during which time we are invited to receive the Holy Eucharist (Holy Thanksgiving) and live in communion with God. Divine Liturgy is the ultimate expression of thanks we offer to God as Orthodox Christians. But when we can’t find something for which we are thankful, Divine Liturgy can become a thankless experience. And nobody enjoys a thankless experience. No wonder so many people are bored during the Divine Services of our Church. To help you be thankful tomorrow I have offered this VERY limited list of things for which you might be thankful. During the Divine Liturgy we give thanks for blessings seen and unseen, so I will list a few ideas (just to start you off) in both categories.

Seen Blessings
  • New Job you’ve been waiting for
  • Good health report
  • Healed from a sickness or disease
  • A family member or friend was ‘saved’ from a tragedy
  • A long-term argument/feud with a family member or friend was healed
  • The birth of a new child in your family
  • The engagement or marriage of a family member or friend
  • You got engaged or married
  • You discovered you’re pregnant and you and your husband are happy
Unseen blessings (these can be difficult to find)

  • You survived another week in a dead end job – at least you still have a job
  • You don't have a job - at least there is still food in your pantry 
  • You have a job interview next week 
  • You received a poor health report, but the prognosis is good
  • You survived another week of chemotherapy
  • You were delayed leaving the house on errands – when you passed that dangerous intersection you realize you would have been ‘that car’ if you left on time
  • Your home burned down – your entire family is safe and staying with friends
  • You discovered you’re pregnant and you’re not married – your decide the give birth and your boyfriend is willing and able to help with raising the child 
In a world so preoccupied with physical and emotional comfort it can be really difficult to be thankful for struggle, but struggle reminds us that we are sinful and in need of repentance. What I pray you understand more than anything else with today’s post is that we should be thankful for the chance to repent before it is too late. No matter what the struggle, at least we are still alive and can repent from our sins, even though our sins may not have caused the exact suffering we endure. Every day God allows us to live is a day He allows us to repent, and THAT day is worth giving thanks for during the Divine Liturgy.

Maybe this list can give you an idea about how you can be thankful to God. So find the closest Orthodox Church and make plans from now to be in Church Sunday morning. You can give thanks to God in person for the blessings seen AND unseen in your life.

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