..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Its that time of year when I think
about the year and all that has
transpired and thank God for His many
and varied blessings. I just replied to
a friend in an email as she mentioned how
many tragic things had happened lately and,
not in any sort of self-pitying way, that
life was sad. I don’t disagree with it, as
matter of fact I agree with it more having
lived through this year, but what I want to
say is that an amazing transformation has
occurred within me despite an amazingly tough year.

I started out this year, still with a much
more of a “cup half empty” kind of viewpoint
about life. Pessimism seems perfectly logical
to me. But “logical” is mental and not spiritual.
Over a period of time an amazing thing has
happened. A couple of weeks back I was watching
Fr. Benedict Groeschel on TV. We must have similar
temperaments. In 2004 he was hit by a bus and
no-one expected him to live, or if he did, only
in the form of a vegetable side dish. He is well
back in action and made the comment: “in my older
age I am no longer a pessimist. I am an optimist.”
God must be doing the same work in his heart as He
is in mine. Get hit by a bus and become an optimist.

This year has been tough. The toughest I can
remember. I doubted the prophet who stood
over me last December or so and said, “I see
storm after storm after storm this year, but
you will have great and abiding peace.”
Even pessimistic me did not believe the ”storm
after storm” part….Well, he must have been a
prophet of the Lord because that is exactly
what happened. I started the year out as a
pessimist and somewhere along the line, by
some ironic but blessed work of God, crushed
under overwhelming pressure with no letup in
sight, amidst storm after storm after storm,
I have become an incurable optimist. Go figure.

Benedict gets hit by a bus and comes up an
optimist. RM has a most difficult year and comes
up joyful. God’s arithmetic can be amazing.

E. Stanley Jones said “I need no outer props to
hold up my faith, for my faith holds me. (Said
when a stroke had rendered immobile and almost
speechless after years of missionary work in India.)
I wonder if he started out a pessimist?

Pessimism, in a sense, has a bad rap because
you know, really, life IS sad. But pessimism
needs its glasses adjusted with a rose colored
tint because the blood of Jesus redeems it all,
and redeems our life, and all its sadness, if
we let Him. What pessimists might miss, unless
God gives them a joy makeover, is that life is
pretty awesome, even at what seems like its worse
points, and there is no use being forever unhappy,
moody and self-focused when it is our turn to get
knocked about by the slings and arrows of
outrageous misfortune
. That’s just a bunch of
Shakespearian tragedy gone awry. Cry your eyes out,
scream your brains out, go to God and find the kind
of comfort that only He can give, but don’t say that
life is not worth it. I have been there and am on my
way back again. I tell you the truth.

I suspect that born optimists are taken down a
different road and made to see that life IS sad,
that Jesus being a "a man of sorrows and acquainted
with grief” was not just nice poetry but a glimpse
into the inner life of the God of all Glory while
He walked amongst us. I suppose that optimists get
shown that, and it works just a realistic amount
of pessimism in their hearts so that they can see
that it is not just nice thoughts and the power of
positive thinking that makes life turn out good and
especially not to give shallow soundbites of positive
fluff to people in their darkest hours. It is then
that folk need the true grit of the Cross and the
unembellished hope of resurrection and not some
positive pablum that has never proved itself
a hearty meal in a desert windstorm.

Bad things happen to good people. Outrageously
bad things happened to the only Good Man who
ever lived. It did not stop Him one whit. His Father
saw to that. Raised Him from the dead. Sat Him down
right next to Himself forever and ever, amen! I will
never let You out of My sight, Son! Never again! I
will see to that!

That’s not so sad, is it?

And we are His people and He will never let us
out of His sight again. And that is not so sad
either, right?

Our God is greater than than any sadness we
must endure.

So on this Thanksgiving Day what should our
attitude and goal be?

Brother Lawrence, a happy man amidst unhappy
circumstances, says,

“Let us be the most perfect worshipers of God
we can possibly be.... I sought no more than
how to be God's and God's alone. My goal made me
resolve to give my all for the All.... Always
I worshiped Him as often as I could, keeping my
mind in His holy presence. When I wandered, I
brought Him back to my mind.... At all times, every
hour, every minute, even at the busiest times. I
drove away from my mind everything capable of
spoiling the sense of the presence of God....
I just make it my business to persevere in His holy
presence... My soul has had an habitual, silent,
secret conversation with God.”

May that be our prayer. May that be our lives. May
that be our worship. Whether we live we live unto
the Lord; whether we die, we die unto the Lord,
whether we make our bed in the lowest hell, or
the highest heaven, we are the Lord’s. And that
should make even a pessimist reform his bleak outlook.

And so I greet you, dear ones, at this time of
thanksgiving, not as the woman I was last year
at this time. I great you optimistically, and
with great faith and hope, in the victorious
name of our Risen Lord Jesus. Life sometimes
may be sad,but life is also good, and more
importantly, so is God.

Happy Thanksgiving,

with the emphasis on both

happy and thanksgiving,


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