Friday, November 21, 2008

I Don't Get This...

On being thankful "for" everything vs. being thankful "in" everything...

I have very much appreciated the responses to the Random post from 11/18. The point has been well made by several people that there is a major difference between these two little words, "for" and "in." Speaking to our situation specifically, and for that matter to any challenge, struggle, or tragedy one may face in this life, it is unfathomable that God would ask us to be thankful "for" these things. Thankful "in" them, yes, I understand that. Thankful despite them, ditto. Mind you, it is a struggle to daily (actually, moment to moment) display this attitude genuinely and from the heart, with integrity if you will, but it IS possible. Not in our own strength, but with the help of Christ and in the power of the Spirit, it does happen. I wholeheartedly agree with everyone who has pointed this out, and I have some thoughts that I have been wrestling with on that, but before I do, I think it would be good to shed a little light on the context of my friend's statement (i.e., the Bible says that we are supposed to be thankful for everything).

It's extremely important for me to point out that his words were definitely not directed at me! He was actually referring to himself, saying that he is selective in his thanks and praise... or something to that effect, meaning that he felt like he shows more gratitude when it's convenient for him than when it is costly and, well, not so convenient... a "fair weather" thanker/praiser you might say. :-) I can identify. Who can't? He talked rather transparently about his failures at praising God and being thankful for the negatives in his life... but, he said, that's what the Bible tells us to do. At that point in the conversation, as I mentioned in the earlier post, thoughts of losing Luke immediately began to race thru my mind, as well as all sorts of other things that occur every day in this broken mess of a world... things that are not in any way deserving of thanks or praise, things that God surely, in my mind at least, is certainly not pleased with... so how could He possibly demand thanks? He doesn't. At least that's the way I see it.

Having said all of that, and I hope this is making some sense, here are some thoughts on the subject.

I began to think the other day, What DOES the Bible actually say about this? That's a good and necessary question, don't you think? I mean afterall, we need to know what God is saying to us in His Word. So, here's what I found... and I know that what I have to say is definitely NOT a complete picture of what the Bible says about being thankful "for" or "in" trials... it is not exhaustive, but rather selective... so I continue to welcome (and want!) your thoughts and observations and experiences and "whispers from the Spirit" on this.

What I found are two primary verses that speak to this subject. The first is Ephesians 5:20, the second 1 Thessalonians 5:18. What I also found was that the latter is understandable to me and therefore encouraging, while the former is... not so understandable and therefore quite disturbing.

First, the understandable, I-can-kind-of-wrap-my-brain-around-this-one part:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (ESV)

The key word, of course, is "in". As in "give thanks in all circumstances." I even checked it out in a bunch of other translations and paraphrases (which, fyi, are listed at the end of this post).

Ok, so I get the point. I'm ok with it. Really. I don't know how exactly, but I can tell you in all sincerity that I am thankful, more so now than ever, and even comforted and joyful and confident in Christ, again more so now than ever, despite the fact that a most horrific thing happened to Nicol and I and Summer and our entire family. I'm thankful. Broken? Crushed? Confused? Disheartened? Yes, all of that too... for sure. But I'm thankful in Christ. I'm thankful because He offers hope. I don't like what has happened and I don't understand it, but I know that this is not the end. There are days when nothing makes sense and I have to fight back anger and bitterness and disappointment and depression and fear, but I know that our faith is real. I know that God has been with us. I know that He has made it possible for us to keep on keeping on. I know that He has given us a ton of grace. I know that the cross and the resurrection are more evident and real to us than ever. I know that Jesus Christ is the best news that we have ever heard. I know these things because we've experienced the love and mercy of the God who promises to never leave us nor forsake us, to listen when we cry out to Him.

The bottom line is that, no matter what happens to any of us, God will give us the grace to continue to see Him for who He is: a relentlessly loving, faithful friend and savior to those who are broken, crushed in spirit, struggling with sin, fighting with demons, stumbling and tripping over the same stupid tendencies that one way or the other keep coming back to haunt them... people just like me.

And for that I am unbelievably thankful.

Now for the disturbing, I-just-don't-get-this part:

Ephesians 5:20 says, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (ESV)

The key word here? You got it: "for." What!? Are you kidding me? Give thanks always and "for" everything? Puhlease!!! Surely it doesn't mean that. Must be a bad translation, right? Wrong. You can read a baker's dozen of others listed below that say the same thing.

Look, I don't know what to say, so I'm not going to say anything else. Not going to try to figure it out or explain it away. If anyone has something to offer on this I AM ALL EARS. This is the kind of thing I don't understand. I don't want to understand it. Maybe I'm just not ready to. Then again, I'll never be ready to. All I know is that it makes no sense to me. Not that God has to make sense to me, but it just seems out of character for Him. How could He expect anyone to be thankful "for" a tragegy the likes of which we have been thru?

Lord, you know my heart. I do not want to come off here as irreverent or unfaithful in any way. Forgive me if I have. I do not want to offend Your good name. You are good and kind and Your Word is eternally good and true in every way. I thank You for that. Please give me (all of us) the grace to understand the things that I cannot now comprehend as well as the grace to be ok with what I will never understand. Amen.

Grace and peace to all.

====================

1 Thessalonians 5:18 Version Comparison:

  • "in every thing give thanks" (YLT; KJV)
  • "in everything give thanks" (NASB; ASV; NKJV)
  • "give thanks in all circumstances" (ESV; NIV)
  • "give thanks in everything" (HCSB)
  • "be thankful in all circumstances" (NLT)
  • "Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks]" (Amplified Bible)
  • "thank God no matter what happens" (The Message)
  • "Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ" (CEV)
  • "and give thanks no matter what happens" (NCV)

Ephesians 5:20 Version Comparison:

  • "giving thanks always for all things" (YLT; KJV)
  • "always giving thanks for all things" (NASB)
  • "giving thanks always for all things" (NKJV; ASV)
  • "giving thanks always and for everything" (ESV; HCSB)
  • "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything" (NIV)
  • "And give thanks for everything" (NLT)
  • "At all times and for everything giving thanks" (Amplified Bible)
  • "Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything" (The Message)
  • "Always use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to give thanks to God the Father for everything" (CEV)
  • "Always give thanks to God the Father for everything" (NCV)








27 comments:

Angie said...

I have found that I have to find thankfulness in the little things and then the big this just come along. I am baby stepping - not a slacker, sorry a quick quote from What About Bob?
Hope you have a great Thanksgiving.
Ang

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for your honesty about the struggles we face through all the heartache in this crazy world. I wish I knew the answers. All I can do is pray for a peaceful night for your family...a night where you feel God's arms around you even when we can't understand what is going on.
Nikki

Heidi said...

I can't say what this means for you in your situation. I will say this. Tahd and I have gone through two particularly painful, gut-wrenching experiences. One had to do with our marriage, and the other is something we're currently dealing with - infertility. We had 2 miscarriages last year. It has broken my heart, time and time again. I certainly won't say either of these situations are comparable to losing a child, but I will say they are immensely painful.

I look at these situations more as a whole than as a singular event. I can say - without a moment's hesitation - that I am thankful for the things that happened to put our marriage in jeopardy. Was I thankful for them at the time? No. But the work wasn't completed at the time. It has taken years. And although I still face incredible grief over the infertility, I am thankful for it. Again, I wasn't at the beginning, but as time has gone on, the sorrow has - at some levels - turned into sweetness. The miscarriages are harder. Mostly, I am at a place where I am neutral on them amidst the sadness. I can think of them without holding incredible anger, bitterness, and questioning in my heart. I have been grown in my ability to trust God - either in His plan or in what He permitted or in how He'll carry me through.

My first miscarriage happened in July 2007. I am just now at the place where there is more peace in my heart regarding it. I say that to gently remind you that the elapsed time since Luke's loss is short. I don't believe time heals all wounds, but I do think wounds require a healing process that can't be rushed. The grief over the loss of a child has infinite nuances.

You don't have to be thankful for the whole thing now. You don't have to rush that. You can be thankful for what you can be thankful for right now... perhaps that God has sustained you during a time of desperation... for the support and love of friends and strangers... for the momentary memories of your sweet son's coos or smells... As you grow and as your grief changes you will be thankful for different things - more things. I believe we will eventually be able to be thankful in and for everything. But God's time is not always our time.

Much love and many prayers to you all during the beginning of this holiday season!

Pretty Hills said...

None of us can truly comprehend what you guys have "truly" felt and been through. I understand what you are saying about the word "for" and what all you are trying to understand. Although, no one will ever understand everything that God means in the bible, we still have to have faith in His word. From reading your story and following you blog, I think it's safe to say, God wants you to be thankful for the time you had Luke on earth. Though his timing was short, you and your family were able to love him, and hold him. Your story is so touching, and I am sure has touched many lives. You have to look at it this way, maybe God wanted to use Luke to get His name out to others. Maybe it was the only way to win some more people to the Lord. I know it is hard, and to you that is not something of significance, to offer your own son. Just know, God will use your faith and your strength. You will find that your story, and your experiences will come up many times in your life. You will have many opportunities to witness to others. Be thankful for the opportunity to help someone else in a situation similar to yours. Be thankful that you can minister to all, with your story! God bless! I hope this helps some.

Daddy's Dream ~Mommy's Miracle said...

I too struggle with this same verse. I always struggle with the one that says find joy in everything. There is no joy in losing my son. God Bless

Stacy D said...

I appreciate this post so well. After losing Isaac this past October, I can't even begin to understand being thankful FOR that... in fact, like you, I have to work hard at fighting off anger, bitterness, depression...
But I CAN understand being thankful IN those circumstances... in the fact that Isaac was alive when he was born, that I got to hold him and love on him and TELL him how much I love him while he could stil hear me, that GOd graciously gave us a tremendous group of friends and family to walk this horrific road with us... I could go on. But I don't know how to be thankful FOR Isaac's death. If you ever figure it out, please let me know. Like you, I am am all ears.

Jen said...

Chapter 5 of Ephesians main focus is waling in the Spirit and in the Light of truth. I have found a common theme in many of Paul's writings and that is the encouragement that the circumstances we are currently facing are for only a second in the light of eternity. I believe when we give thanks in and for circumstances, it is because we know that God is still in control, He still has a plan, and He will see us through to the end. We give thanks because in all things, we have the comfort of the Lord. We give thanks to Him because He is there with us. We are not alone. We have been called by Him and we all share the common hope of eternal life. Walking in darkness and enduring tragedy alone would be so much worse than doing it with Jesus and the hope that He brings. My son is with Jesus and it hurts every day. However, I give thanks that while my walk here is hard, my son is not dead, but rather he is living with the King and waiting for me to join him. I am not thankful for his physical death, or for any of his sufferings, but I am thankful that he is in good hands and THAT is what makes this separation bearable. My son was one of my greatest blessings from God. His life built my faith in a way I never thought was possible. His physical death was unfathomable and horrendous but has also revelaed God to me in a very intimate way. I am so thankful for this new intimacy most.

I continue to pray for you all. Sending love.....

Mom to 2 boys +? said...

The best answer I can give you is "I don't know". I have found that is the answer to a lot of the questions I've had since I lost my baby. I've asked God a lot of questions - similar to the ones you've asked - and I have found that it has brought me so much closer to Him and He has found little ways to answer my questions when I am still and listen for Him. There is nothing wrong with these questions, they are deepening your faith and your relationship with Him - all you can do is turn to Him, His word and listen and sometimes you just have to be content with "I don't know". For me, I am thankful for Tyler and the short time I had with him. I am also thankful for the good things his death has brought out in my life: more appreciation for life and those around me, more empathy for others and a relationship with God that I never could comprehend before. Am I thankful that my son died - no, but I am thankful that through God, good things have happened through it and I truly think I am a better person now. Would I go back and change it if I could? Absolutely, but I can't so I just have to be thankful for what's left and that God is there to hold me up.
Kara

Wife, mother...and now a grandma! said...

I am a regular reader of your site and my heart goes out to both you and your family...I love your blogs and the encouragement you bring to my heart with each post.

As for being thankful FOR everything...to me the hardest part has never been the FOR but the EVERY...I have, through many extremely difficult life circumstances, learned that we have to keep our eye on the goal...which is to be like Christ!!

Romans 8:28 says "And we KNOW that ALL things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS purpose" If we put these two verses together it may help us to focus on how we can be grateful for everything...because we know that this is HIS purpose...that He is in control of every detail...and that through this we are ultimately becoming more like Christ...

Please know, with my whole heart, I do not mean to downplay what has happened in your life....and while going through my struggles this was a whole lot of head knowledge and was difficult to apply in my heart!! As I look back, the pain still exists, but I can always find comfort in knowing that My Lord and Savior has me in His hand and allows each and every thing for His purpose....and it really is my heart's desire to be completely in His will and doing His will. I have seen him use me and those horrible times in my life to help others...and that makes me think of another verse, which I cannot at this time find the reference, or exact wording to, but I know that I have read and thought much on a verse that tells us we can comfort or encourage others who share our experiences...God has used me, and my trials, to be able to come along side and help carry a sister or two along the road!

The pain does not go away...it can be comforted...but only by Him and a constant focus on His control over our lives...I have always said...if I did not believe God was in control of everything...I would live in a continual state of fear and worry!! (something I already struggle with if you can't tell)

If nothing else...this happening in your life has been an encouragement to many others who have also lost a child...and to those of us who may not have lost a child, but who have suffered unimaginably and still need to give thanks...Keep on keeping on...remember...actions first and feelings follow....even if you don't FEEL thankful....keep on giving thanks because you know He is in control and eventually you will feel thankful...This I know...because HE has brought me to that point...

Love in Christ to you and your family!!

Nancy

Courtney said...

Thankful that through his passing, Christ is proclaimed? Yes. Thankful that he will not experience hurts and trials of life in this world? Yes. Thankful that you can't hold your son. I'm having a pretty hard time with that too.

Thanks for sharing and being so honest. Still praying for your sweet family.

Kristy said...

I have struggled much with this. I grew up in a very abusive home - mental, verbal and at times physical. When I look back on my childhood, I hurt for that little girl who was me. I find it hard to reconcile all of it - all those painful years with what I know of God. I have come to only 2 conclusions in dealing with all of it. One - you touched on. I can't understand God. His ways are not my ways. Two - I am who I am today because of what I went through, and for some reason, known to God alone, I had to go through it - to be who I am. And even though I never felt God with me, or even knew of Him, I have to believe that He was there. I know He was. Like you said, to be thankful for it, that's something that's hard to say or feel. Nearly impossible. Praying for you and Nicol and Summer.

Alice said...

I hesitate to even comment here because I don't know the answer to this question, and I can't begin to feel the depths of your pain.

There is a beautiful book called "Stepping Heavenward" written in the 1800s by Elizabeth Prentiss (she wrote the hymn "More Love to Thee.") I think you and your wife might find great comfort in reading it. She tells of the unexpected death of her 6-year-old son and says, "I find no consolation in [people's] remarks. My comfort is in my perfect confidence in the goodness and love of my Father, my certainty that He had a reason in thus afflicting me that I would admire and adore if I knew what it was. And in the midst of my sorrow I have had and do have a delight in Him before unknown, so that sometimes this room in which I am a prisoner seems like the very gate of heaven."

I continue to pray for you and your family...
Alice

Anonymous said...

I do not claim to know the bible or the will of the Lord. I am just a newcomer to faith and so perhaps I am looking at it wrong but I think that it means that you should me thankful for the entire event and how it is now effecting you.
Please stay with me on this. Losing your son was the most awful thing that you could ever have to go through. I wish that you never would have had to go through this. As a mother of two I pray that I never have to go through it.
But, and you have blogged about this, losing Luke has really opened your eyes to how precious life and all its miracles are. You now know how quickly things can slip away, and you are savoring every minute with your family a little more. You took the time to have a tea party with Summer and that before you might have postponed. And I am sure that you are really present with Nicol when you may have shrugged off something before.
I hope that I am making some sense here. The actual event was just terrible, but perhaps it has made you, or is making you a better father and husband in the long run, and that is what you should be giving thanks for. Everything that has come since then.

maggieallen123 said...

There is one thing that I have found that there are some VERY difficult things that God asks us to do in His Word. Sometimes those things even seem so weird and impossible. I believe it all boils down to trusting him and being obedient. I found this to be true when I read the scripture that said to love my enemy and to pray for them, (I kow this doesn't compare to what you are going through, but is strictly an example.) I didn't want to pray for my enemy and I certainly didn't feel like it...but out of obedience I did just that. I began to pray for my enemy and before I knew it I began to have compassion for my enemy and began to see her through God's eyes. I began to love her in a supernatural way that was only possible through God. I remember one time you said that a friend told you to fall into your grief, maybe that is small part of trying to understand this scripture...fall into it, do it because He tells us to, even if we don't feel like it, and see how HE can change our heart. Sounds strange but that is how God works. Hope you and your family have a wonderful visit during Thanksgiving.

The Morris Family said...

Gen.28:15-21, And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: Yes, we come into dreadful places yet He is in this place with us, the hard things like unto the stone can and will be a place of rest because it has driven us to find solace in his bosom, it has been tow years since our little Joel was here and it is only at his time that I am beginning to be able to declare from my heart that HE IS MY GOD AND I DO TRUST HIM WITH THE PLANS AND PURPOSES HE HAD FOR JOEL.
It is a process and you just go one day at a time reading and stepping on the next verse.
Cindy

Celie said...

Respect the mystery of God's the invisible hand.
Yes Lord, a crown to lay at the feet of Jesus! Is God planting something bigger in us who sorrow, the unthinkable sorrow of the loss of a child. The making of a new ... Planting of the Lord that deep abiding relationship he is drawing your family into. Through his strength abide, choose to. Those deep chains of sorrow which are heavy, costly on this threshingfloor . 2Sa 24:24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor [ a void place]. Does this describe your heart at a time like this place in your journey? No one to shed that love you have for Luke, on a void place. That love is only to be given to Luke and one day our hope will become sight and touch our children in that holy place we so long for. At our Lords feet ,to lay our crown with our children at out arms touch . All Glory and praise we will give. What blessing he has waiting for us because oh him we will/have endure. We know of self we could not survive this torment we suffer this thorn in the flesh. Isa 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Rest in the mastery of his peace. Isa 26:4 Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: Isa 26:12 LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: The costly oil a costly offering come with a price our foundation he is building in the new us never will we be the person we were. As your family walk through this time Jesus will touch your brokeness healing into the planting of the Lord. The touch of the masters peace to know I am with you, he goes before us. Thank you Lord for we don't have to walk through this journey alone. We truly don't and can't understand Lord. Your family I know has felt him at your side like never before you knew. Amazing God we serve. Continue to shed those tears at the feet of Jesus, he doesn't take they lightly. But catches them in a bottle. Father I know the Sponberg family cries out to you today so much we can't understand. Beyond us to understand. No answers within self so we can only cry out to you Father with the voice of thankgiving. We love and trust you for strength to press on . In Jesus name Amen Jon 2:7 When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee,into thine holy temple. Jon 2:9 But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving;

My prayers continue with yourfamilies
Celie

sheila said...

My valley was deep then in an instant it became deeper and wider. I prayed to see some light. I lost 3 nephews (8,6,&5)on Nov.4. This Thanksgiving, this Thursday is going to be a very hard day in a series of hard days to come. Thankful, oh boy, that is tough. Forgive me, as I am the Aunt and not the Mother (my sweet, sister), but they were so much a part of our lives too, our children are the same age and she was a single mom, so we did everything together. I remember in the days that followed we were all really just in shock and disbelief, the incredible pain was there. Pain I had never felt before. I was saying 'This is as hard as it gets', Others were trying to comfort me saying, 'Yes, truly this is as hard as it gets.'

As the days led on, and I was thinking and saying, 'this is as bad as it gets' and God impressed upon me, I know where they are and I believe I will be with them again. So, as hard as this is, for me and my family, I can take comfort in knowing they are with our loving Jesus. As bad as it gets: My children growing up and rejecting Jesus and being eternally lost. That would be as bad as it could get. My perspective has changed, do you know my Lord and Savior? Do you know where you will spend eternity? No, I haven't went on an evanglical mission, but my perspective has changed. My prayer was 'Lord come quickly', then I thought of my brother who is not saved, 'yet'. Oh, Lord there is much work to be done. Give me the wisdom and strength.

I am thankful that they are not lost to the world, I am thankful there is a Heavenly Father who sees the big picture.
God Bless you and Nicol and Summer this Thanksgiving. In God's Love, sheila

Lynette said...

I'm not sure I really get it either but I do know that God doesn't expect us to pretend. Our hearts in all their brokeness matter to him. Maybe this is something that just won't be worked to completion this side of heaven. We may make steps towards it but until we're home, reunited with those we've lost and able to see the whole picture - only then may we be able to find that kind of thankfulness.

kim said...

(To Sheila: I am so sorry for this road you and your family must go down! I am praying for you.)

I don’t get it either . . .
But in my thoughts I sure have been mulling it over since the last couple of posts.
The comments blogged before me have also got me thinking. Heidi got me thinking about how time helps to sweeten . . . being thankful in steps(it's a process). Jen said when we give thanks in and for . . . it is because we know that God is still in control. And Nancy mentioned this too. I liked reading those thoughts. I also think about trust and humility.
So, I ask myself: Do I really believe God is in control? Do I trust Him with everything? Can I humble myself, move beyond me, and trust God with all things that happen? If I can’t thank God for all things, does that mean I don’t really trust him? Does it mean I don’t really believe He is in control? WOW, and I have a long ways to go before I can be thankful for all things! Wow, I feel so far away from where God wants me to be! Oh, I AM far from God, maybe that is the humility part. I want to be obedient but I have more questions than answers on the specifics.
But I do have a thankful thought right now and that is: THANK YOU LORD that you love me right now and you allow me to grow and question, You are not waiting until I get it and can do it! If indeed, I’m supposed to be thankful FOR all things! God asks us to do the impossible because THROUGH HIM and only Him all things are possible. And thank you Lord for your love that bridges this huge gap that I have and that I can feel close to you!

a woman found said...

I found your blog through Angie's Bring the Rain. I don't get it either, but this morning God's been using some questions and answers Oswald Chambers penned to help me just trust Him.

"Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do- He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you "go out" in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised on iota by anything He does?" (Oswald Chambers)

I thought God told me what He was going to do, and I kinda disagree with Oswald... I still think He does sometimes. But when i'm faced with disappointment and pain and don't see how what's going on could be what God would do I realize He wants me to know Him and draw close to HIM an not necessarily know what He's doing or allowing or why.

Thanks for sharing this post
Sheila

Jo said...

I too lost a child. My dear, Lilly was nestled in the wrong place (in my fallopian tube) and she was taken from us at 12 weeks.

First let me extend my sincere sorrow at the loss of your lovely Luke.

I think to me, the "for" is not necessarily being thankful for Lilly's death... but being thankful that God chose her. Of all of the babies growing in their mommy's wombs, He chose MY little girl. How spectacular is that?

Yes I still hurt, and cry and scream and grieve.... I still have to live my life without my daughter here. But knowing that she was *chosen*... chosen to be with God... that keeps me going.

Amy said...

I found your blog post as a reference from Angie. I can truly say that I am thankful "for" the loss of my Autumn. (Backstory:- I began to lose my pregnancy on Thanksgiving Day last year at 10 1/2 weeks- have MAJOR infertility issues and it was a true miracle to be pregnant) I would not be the women that I am NOW without that loss. Does that mean I don't greive it?- heck no- does it mean that I would change it and still be that sinful women and have my baby? I don't know- but in honesty maybe. Part of me wants to say YES (and definately in Nov07- August08) I would want to have and hold Autumn and live "in the OK"~ with mediocure Christain faith and superfical happiness. Part of me says NO because of the lessons I have learned through this journey remarkably strengthened my faith and love for the LORD. The journey of your family (in both losses) is remarkable. I have to ask the Lord, why? Didn't they suffer enough? I am just reminded that in all things God will bring Glory. It is unfathomable in some cases and may not be seen for a while, but it will come. Blessings to you and your family.

Amy- rememberautumn.blogspot.com

sumi said...

I just came here from Angie's blog myself and am struggling with the same concept.

Soooo...I decided to look up the word 'for' in my Strong's concordance. It basically means 'over or beyond, or instead of'

It makes more sense to me to say that despite all of this, over and beyond my circumstances, I will give thanks in all things.

I don't want to be a rebel. I love Jesus dearly. I can thank him for all the blessings that has flowed into my life since Feb 2007. I can thank him for becoming such a dear and close friend to me in my darkest hour.

But I can't bring myself to thank him for the horror of sitting with my little girl on my lap as she grew colder and colder. That wasn't his doing, though he allowed it in his wisdom. (and I can totally rest in that)

Death itself is from the pit of hell and I can't thank Jesus for that.

Kingdom Mama said...

Greg,

I hope this doesn't seem insensitive. But this is my first visit here, and I thought it couldn't be just coincidence that I stumbled by right after writing this:

http://kingdomtwindom.blogspot.com/2008/11/im-thankful-for-speeding-tickets-and.html

I am in NO way comparing the minor nuisance trials I am speaking about and the real tragedy you have experienced. I have actually lived through some horrendous trials myself (though still not comparable to losing a child). But I think the principles God is showing me can still apply.

Anyway, I hope you are having a peaceful and blessed Thanksgiving, and are truly feeling the blessings of Christ's love today.

Carla Burlando said...

I read about your loss this summer through Angies blog but I only just now came across yours. Your son was beautiful, what a head of hair. My heart breaks for what your family has and still is going through. I remember when we found out our son was going to die and when we were in the depths of grief I would mentally skip over verses like that...like you I just couldn't get it. I believed it to be true but just couldn't understand how it ever could be in my heart. You sound like you are doing an amazing job at being thankful "in" these circumstances and that is a start. That and is also difficult at times. Being thankful for them...well that may take a life time. In the fullness of time God will allow you a broader perspective and glimses of his glory revealed because of Lukes passing. I don't know how we can ever be thankful for missed birthdays and lullabies but we can be thankful for the time we had...even if in our eyes it was too short. We can be thankful that our boys are spared the pain and trials of this life and living in perfect peace, and joy. I am thankful that of all my kids, only one I know for sure will be with me in eternity. I pray everyday that the others will be too...but they have a lot of living and decisions still ahead of them. I think the only thing worse than a child being whisked away to eternity early is to turn their back on God and live without him for eternity. I only realized this recently...it took 8 years actually feel thankful for that chapter of my life.

Anonymous said...

I think perhaps this is why we are told to give a "sacrifice of praise." To sacrifice is to give something that is difficult for us to give for the sake of something with a higher claim. Giving praise, or thanks, at a time like this is very difficult--but God is to have a higher claim on our life than even our grief. May God bless you abundantly through this season of grief because you are willing to offer him a sacrifice of praise.

Lori said...

I certainly don't want to take away from anything that you feel the Lord is trying to teach you or help you grow in, but something else to consider: In the Scripture you reference (the hard one - Ephesians 5:20), the word "for" is actually not present in the original Greek. It was put in by English translators who needed to insert a preposition in order to have the sentence "make sense." (A quick search in a Greek lexicon will pull up the verse for you. In most lexicons, you can easily see which words have been translated and which words were inserted by translators, such as articles, pronouns, and some prepositions).

I appreciate the way you are searching the Scriptures about this difficult subject and notice that you included many different translations of this verse. But sometimes the best version of all to examine is the text in its original language.

I'm not trying to be so arrogant as to say that I know God ISN'T saying to be thankful for everything, but I know that more than a few times in history, men have built theological positions on less than perfect translations. I think it's one of the reasons Scripture tells us more than once not to add anything to His words.

I submit this to you humbly and prayerfully, simply in hopes that it might help you as you seek the Lord and examine what His word does and doesn't command you to do.

My comment is not just a theological one. My family just spent our third Thanksgiving together since the loss of my sister's oldest son. He would have been nine this year. We miss him as much this year as we did the first year. We are thankful for many, many things--for the time we did have with him, for the time we still have with one another, for the promise of eternity, and for the grace and mercy of God that will carry us until we are together again. But I do not know that God is asking us to be thankful for his suffering and his death.

I am thankful that he suffers no longer. I am thankful for how God has revealed Himself to us in the midst of our own pain. But after examining Ephesians 5:20 a little closer, I'm just not convinced it is commanding us what the English translation suggests.

Grace and peace to you and your family. You are in our prayers.

In Christ,
Lori