November always brings gratitude to the forefront of my mind in anticipation of Thanksgiving. I recently learned something about gratitude from an unlikely source: Job.
Job is famous for the depth of losses he experienced: he lost all his livestock (symbols of wealth and his ability to earn a living) and all ten of his children within a single day. When I consider enduring such loss, I feel my knees buckling at the mere thought.
Most of the book of Job is comprised of dialog between Job and his well-intentioned-but-hurtful friends. In the end (spoiler alert), we are left without direct answers to the question of suffering and are to be consoled with the truth that God is both mysterious and powerful.
Here’s the passage that has tugged on my heart since reading it:
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” –Job 1:20,21 ESV
It would be naïve to think that these two verses summed up Job’s grief. He undoubtedly carried the pain of his losses for the rest of his years. And Job does some pretty impudent questioning of God throughout the rest of the book (we’ve all been there, right?). So, let’s resist the urge to oversimplify and put Job on a pedestal.
Yet there is something remarkable about those two verses. How could Job worship in the midst of his grief? How could he utter those words?
The answer, I think, is gratitude.
I suspect Job looked on his wealth with keen awareness that it had been given to him by God. I suspect he recognized his children as gifts from Him. Only a lack of entitlement can submit humbly to such deep loss. Gratitude is a posture of open-handedness—the ability to receive a gift from the Giver and to part with it again when required.
It struck me that Job weathered it because he already knew from Whom all good gifts come (James 1:17). Let’s not wait to begin a practice of gratitude in the midst of a crisis.
Let’s begin now.
If you’re already dealing with a painful loss, I’m praying you will experience God’s comfort. Please drop me a line to tell me how I can pray.
I’ve watched a lot of cross-country races in my day. All three of my kids participate in the sport, so I’ve become a big fan. One of my favorite races is the Steven Thompson Memorial Centipede. It’s unlike any other high school meet my kids’ teams attend because the athletes run as a single unit for the first two-thirds of the race. No joke: all seven members of the team hold a rope while they run.
For the final mile, they drop the rope and finish the race as individuals. But each athlete’s finishing time is driven, in large part, by the strength of their team whose collective pace positions them for the final mile. The fastest athletes finish slower than they do when they run alone and, often, the slower runners finish faster.
In the months leading up to my oldest child’s departure for college, I’ve been consumed with emotions and lengthy lists.
The fact that I’ve got lists should come as no surprise. I’ve got lists of items I need to purchase for her, tasks to get done, and wisdom to impart (all the things I’m sure I never taught her!). I suppose the emotions should be expected, too. (Note to the wise: do not purchase the airplane ticket for firstborn’s college departure when premenstrual; extreme risk to computer keyboard.) Yet in all the activity and tears, a single question has proved to be the most helpful in preparing me for this emotional milestone.
August in the Boise area usually means smoke in the valley.
Whether from Idaho fires, or those from Oregon and Washington, it’s not uncommon to have poor air quality and visibility this time of year. In addition to my general distaste for southern Idaho summer heat, I am saddened every year to think of the devastation the fires bring to our forests. I know the fiery heat births new life from the pinecones to regenerate the wooded hillsides, but it still bothers me to see the char-scarred hills.
The prospect of moving 800 miles away filled me with grief.
As an introverted person, anticipating the loss of the friendships I’d built over many years was deeply painful. I feared losing the proximity that wove my life into the fabric of others’. I feared distance would unavoidably change, or even end, those relationships. I was, in many ways, ready for a new adventure, but the thought of starting over relationally was a heavy weight in my heart.
My friend’s words were a surprising gift. And the remedy to my ache…
For more of my writing on friendship, click here.
I had completely forgotten about it.
It wasn’t until I cleaned out a few desk drawers that I found it again, buried amongst scraps of paper and some expired coupons (I’ve just never mastered that coupon thing…). The notecard was from a retreat I attended several years ago. During one of the personal moments of reflection, we were assigned to write a note to ourselves from Jesus addressing whatever challenge we were experiencing at that moment. I unfolded the pink-striped paper and found a fresh gift, a loving dose of encouragement. I hope they offer you the same:
Too many of us feel isolated and lonely.
Sure, friendships take time… time we don’t always feel we have to spare. And yet, I don’t think we can afford to not spend the time on relationships. God designed us for it!
The theme at LIFT (an event I spoke at last week; if you’re local to Boise, I hope you attended!), was community and connection. Our aim is for women to live inspired, fearless, and thriving lives. And we believe that’s best done in community.
Joy. It’s a popular word this time of year.
It’s printed on pillows, formed into stocking hangers, and a common refrain in Christmas music.
We want joy. Yet many of us lament we don’t feel joyful during December.
“I think you might have helped me decide not to adopt.”
She was worried that I’d be dismayed at her words, thinking I wanted everyone to adopt. I had just delivered a fairly candid, vulnerable message to a group of women on the topic of adoption. In our conversation afterward, I reassured her of what I’ve long held to be true:
Everyone can do something to help orphans. And I do wish everyone would. I base my opinion on God’s adoption of us into His family (Ephesians 1:5), and the exhortation in James 1:27 that we show pure and blameless religion by looking after orphans (and widows).
I’ve missed you, friends!
I’ve written so many blog posts in the recent months… in my head. I really have been writing quite a bit, but the content has been specifically for Our Daily Bread Ministries so I haven’t had the ability to post more here. (If you’re not familiar with Our Daily Bread, please do check it out as an accessible yet thought-provoking daily devotional. Whether you prefer to receive them in print or through social media, they’ve got options! My devotionals will begin appearing in March of 2017.) I do hope you’re following me on Instagram and Facebook, too; when the radio is silent on the blog, you can usually count on something on those sites (but I still don’t seem to be able to Tweet).