“When Giving Thanks Is Tough.”

December 8, 2008

n764515494_5002108_45521Last night, my friend Jaimee called me.  Her 10-month old son, little Nathan, had been in the hospital for weeks.  I don’t understand all the medical terminology, but in brief, he’d had a handful of major surgeries on his brain and had been hospitalized.  She called me yesterday to tell me that the doctors said there was nothing they could for him anymore.  Nathan had (has) little time left.

This is one of those times when words fail.  When the hurting, the shattered hopes for his recovery, and the God, I don’t understand can only be expressed through tears (or worse, through a deadness that threatens to dry the tears and harden the heart).

On the way back from the hospital last night, I was trying so hard to reconcile what I believed to be true about who God is and what was happening.  When I woke up this morning, I compared my view of God with the image of Jaimee, TJ, and little Nathan in the hospital.  God who says He is Love and a broken, hurting family.  God who says He is sovereign and unchanged circumstances.  The Who and the what didn’t seem to fit together.

Today, I read through my notes from last week’s sermon again, When Giving Thanks Is Tough (Habakkuk):

Habakkuk asks God, “O LORD, how long…?”  He’s tired and disillusioned, even angry, but he’s honestly seeking God’s face.  (God would rather we move toward Him in complaint than away from Him in disappointment and disbelief.)

When He feels distant, when He seems to be silent, we’re given the choice to fasten our hope on God’s unchanging character — not just as a knee-jerk reaction to blessing but in the midst of dismal circumstances.

Habakkuk questions God’s concern … and then His very goodness.

C.S. Lewis wrote this in his journal after his wife died of cancer: I don’t think I’m in much danger of ceasing to believe in God.  The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him.  The conclusion I dread is not, “So, there’s no God after all,” but “So this is what God is really like…”

When every ropes breaks.  When every door shuts.  When you ask for strength but only see weakness.  You think, “He knows my hurt, my struggle, my concern … then why?”

Our problem and concern is the hurt.  God’s concern is us … perseverance …

In Habakkuk 2:1, Habakkuk says, “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me, and I will answer concerning my complaint.”

Part of the LORD’s response to him is, “But the LORD is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Habakkuk 2:20).  He is in His holy temple.

We cannot always grasp His methods, but we can know Him.  This doesn’t mean that there’s no pain, but it’s tempered by the knowledge of who He is.

Habakkuk prays.  His prayer is a walk through the past, remembering God and His deeds.  I don’t know much about His ways and methods now than I did then … but I know Him.

Habakkuk praises God.  Circumstances haven’t changed, but he has.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 — “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the product of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Though all visible signs of God’s blessings are stripped away and even when His presence seems to be absent, I will rejoice.  That’s the kind of trust He desires in us and a gratitude that doesn’t change, because it’s fixed on His unchanging goodness.

Habakkuk wasn’t born like this.  Remember the clenched fist?  It didn’t come naturally to him.  He learned it.

Reflect and remember.  Rejoice, because He’s always good and faithful.

When I gave up thinking within myself about the theological implications of this painful situation and instead began taking my conflicted, broken thoughts to God Himself, I began to remember (not just in the sense of recalling to my mind but really knowing and remembering) who He is … because I was talking to Him.  He’s Abba.

He is on His throne.  He is also near, so near, to the brokenhearted and the crushed in spirit — to Jaimee and TJ, to Grandma Kit and Grandpa Jim, to other family, to little Nathan, to our church family.

And we will praise Him … even if it’s through tears and struggles.


2 Responses to ““When Giving Thanks Is Tough.””

  1. simp1ysteph Says:

    ❤ this ministered to my heart today tia. it reminds me that God is not a distant, uninvolved God but an invasive, loving one who searches every part of my heart.

  2. tia Says:

    aw, steph. i’m glad.

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