I have a confession to make:
I found it very difficult to sing this thanksgiving. I battled the thought:
It might be easy to be thankful when things around us seem to be going well, but how does one approach life in gratitude when brokenness surrounds us… Our text today has given me some clues.
Clue 1 - Points us to our frailty – Paul says we have “treasure in clay pots” – no matter how ancient this text, the picture still works. Gold, jewels, overflowing a simple grey pot.., easily cracked or broken yet there it is overflowing with beauty from God. The pot can’t handle the beauty within just as our bodies cannot handle the brokenness of the world we live in while having been given a gift of remarkable proportion to our frailty.
Clue 2- Points us to the source of power - The “power doesn’t come from us” is a message standing in contrast to a thanksgiving focused on mere possessions we have worked hard for and accumulated. Thankfulness for the bounty of our world is truly something to be thankful for but this texts points us to go deeper..
Clue 3 - Points to real blessing - What we think is blessing are only the residual effects of a gracious God, the deeper blessing comes in the contrast of the kingdom of grace – those poor in spirit, mourning, meek, hungering for justice, merciful, peacemakers, persecuted… No wonder we don’t hear much of this kind of blessing, things for which to be grateful. “So the kingdom of grace, (as it is shared)… may increase thanksgiving” Not for what we have materially, but this amazing gift received of Holy Spirit, grace
As songwriter says – All Because of You… I am. The songwriter reflects this way of thinking for me
I was born a child of grace, Nothing else about the place, Everything was ugly but your beautiful face
And it left me no illusion, I saw you in the curve of the moon, In the shadow cast across my room
You heard me in my tune, When I just heard confusion, All because of you, I am, I am
Did you notice the play on words? All because of you – I am, who is I AM. The one whose story is one of
Glory, Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude (Creation, Chaos, Redemption, Restoration). This is the thankfulness I have been able to focus on in light of traumas of my life trying to push away gratitude. The word itself – gratitude, points me to gratis, that which is free. Focusing on the free gifts in life, despite the troubles, keeps me going. Searching for the grace in all of life, because the brokenness is easy to see. As Jesus said, “In this life you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome…”
I have been asking myself, wrestling with, “What does a posture of gratitude look like amidst storms of trouble?” It brings me back to – all because of you I am. This Jesus who calls himself I am – points me to search for grace in life. As songwriter also says,
“Grace finds goodness in everything” Three treasures for clay pots to find…
Finding goodness is a gift – to look for the good in the world that Sam in LOTR says is worth fighting for. Looking for the hidden riches of the world around me when so much seems bleak so vaporous as Quoeleth has said – on the news, twitter feeds, media circus, campus power plays..
Those random acts of kindness are less taken for granted – being let into traffic, or just a simple smile.
Finding goodness is a posture
I have to struggle against my own natural bent to focus on the negative. Not a posture that only posts how good life is on Facebook, but has a realness that mourns with those who mourn, yet live in tension to rejoice with those who rejoice.
Finding goodness is gruelling… it takes much work every day to find goodness in this story gone awry.
Finding goodness in the glory that still shimmers in creation’s beauty yet unmarred by human touch
Finding goodness in the guilt that can be admitted, when authenticity is allowed to show in weakness
Finding goodness in the grace given through God coming to earth in Christ
Finding goodness in the free gift of ultimate shalom/peace that comes when all things are made new
Maybe I can find goodness again in the songs of thanksgiving… or maybe we write some new songs that sing of gratitude for a world so broken and so beautiful while we await a new day when gratitude will be ever present…and in a Person our eyes will see.