how to be thankful in times of perplexity
November 10th, 2011 | Posted by Cathe Laurie
In everything give thanks… We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair…
This will be a tough Thanksgiving holiday for the Huseman family. There will be two empty places at the table. Somewhere in the desert, near Lake Dolores, Rick and Jeff’s plane crashed. In that moment, they took their last breath on earth, their first breath in heaven. In those final heartbreaking moments, they took turns talking and praying with their mother… and then came a deafening silence on the other end. I can’t imagine this mother’s heartbreak.
We want to know: How is it possible to be thankful and praise God for the things we cannot comprehend? The psalmists show us the way.
The Book of Psalms gives us the permission to ask why, how, when. In one psalm, David cries out, “Wake up God; why are you sleeping?” I love the honesty, the rawness of his prayer. He didn’t tidy it up to impress us. He bares his soul so freely, confident his God will understand. We are in good company; there are many others in Scripture who knew “tears as their food day and night.” After all, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself called from His cross, “My God, My God, why?”
I read in Psalm 42, couched in the midst of the cries and questions, of a tremendous strength. One moment the psalmist pours out his soul to God, and the next he preaches to himself.
“Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:11 NIV).
I will yet praise him! These are the final verses in the psalm. There was no quick fix, no answer on the horizon; his condition hadn’t changed. But despite his bewilderment, he determines to praise his Savior and God.
Is this some form of holy schizophrenia? Perhaps, but I assure you God is in favor to this kind of “self talk.” We must learn how preach to our hearts in tough times. Try this prescription: instead of running to the pastor, the counselor, your best friend, or the bottle of anti-depressants, talk to yourself.
Greg, when being hit with thoughts of doubt, has used these words: “Greg, shut up!” Strong words I know, but whatever words you choose, you must urge yourself strongly to do more than rehearse your painful situation. Command your heart into obedience, and put your hope in God, who is worthy of our praise.
Maybe with broken hearts, tear-stained faces, and voices hoarse from crying, we can rise above our circumstances and offer thanks, a sacrifice of praise. Because, either we believe God is good and is in control, or we had better quit the charade, pack our bags, and call it a day. Instead, I pray you will join me and many others who continue to believe and give thanks, in spite of how we feel and what we face.
As Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes, “The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment; it is the fruit of a thousand choices.”