RAIN INTO RAINBOWS.
Being Thankful For Adversity.
It’s easy to give thanks for things we naturally should be thankful for.
With a few exceptions, we are all thankful for the same things, and rightfully so. Family. Friends. Ice cream. Sunshine. Puppies. Singing Japanese bidets.
It’s slightly more difficult to give thanks in spite of our circumstances. If you’ve spent any time awake on this planet, you know by now that life is not a bed of roses. It’s not even a MemoryFoam PosturePedic bed, or any kind of bed at all, because a bed implies rest. Comfort. Predictability. Life is a crazy, erratic roller coaster ride with more ups and downs than a Whac-a-Mole gone wild.
Yes, it’s important to give thanks in the midst of difficult circumstances. In spite of them. But I challenge you, and challenge myself, to take it a step further.
I challenge you, and challenge myself, to give thanks for our difficult circumstances. Not to celebrate calamity, or seek out adversity, but rather to recognize that it is because of and through hardship that we grow, change, and learn. Sometimes it takes darkness to show us the light.
I’m thankful for the physical ailments I’ve suffered. In the past five years, I’ve bitten off my tongue and detached a nostril in a mountain biking accident, torn my Achilles playing basketball, suffered from Lyme Disease for over a year, dealt with multiple herniated discs in my neck and back, and undergone hand surgery for Dupuytren’s Contracture. Through these dark times of crutches and hundreds of doctor’s visits and speech therapy and more, I learned that I am not invincible. That life can change in a heartbeat. That I can never take for granted even the most basic of life’s activities, such as walking, talking, and playing guitar. That we are not promised tomorrow, but have the power to make the most of today.
I’m thankful for everything I don’t know, and for everything I can’t control, about my future. My love life. My career. I have learned, and am still learning, that what God has in store is dramatically better than what I can come up with on my own. I’m thankful that even though life is often overwhelmingly confusing and daunting, time has a way of clarifying. Of revealing the meaning in the mess. The purpose in the puzzlement.
I’m thankful for my many mistakes, because they remind me that I am a man in desperate need of grace. I’m thankful that I am not a prisoner to my past, but am free to choose. To change. I’m thankful that through my mistakes, I have not only been blindsided by the grace of God, but also by the undeserved grace of those in my life who have forgiven me and given me a clear picture of what unconditional love looks like.
I’m thankful for the times that others have hurt me, because it gives me the opportunity to respond with the grace that has been given to me.
I’m thankful for pain and for sorrow, because it reminds us that this world is not our home, and that one day every tear will be wiped away from our eyes. It also makes the joy and meaning that still exist in this broken world even more beautiful by comparison.
I’m thankful for a God who does things completely differently than you or I would if we were somehow bestowed with the mantle of deity. A God who hung out with a bunch of prostitutes and sellout tax collectors and lepers and salty sailors. A God who lifts up the weak and confounds the strong. A God who offers unimaginably free grace to everyone, the self-righteous Pharisee and desperate criminal alike. A God who made the ultimate statement of triumph with a shameful, painful death on a cross. I’m thankful for a stone that has been rolled away, the stone that guarded the tomb of the Savior, and the stone that kept my heart cold and dead for so long.
Life is undoubtedly hard. Short. Cruel. But if it weren’t, where would we find beauty? Meaning? A reason to give thanks? Without rain, there could be no rainbows. Without rocks and cliffs, there could be no waterfalls.
Don’t wait for life to get better. It won’t. Don’t wait for things to get easier. They won’t. Embrace life. The good. The bad. The joy. The pain. Learn to be thankful for it all. Let this thankfulness permeate every facet of your life.
Don’t let your thankfulness end with Thanksgiving Day.