It’s much easier to “give thanks in troubled times” after we’ve endured and passed through the troubled times. This week’s reading from Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22 is a great example of praising God in troubled times . . . but doing it after the troubled times are over.
When things are rotten, I don’t feel like giving thanks. I feel, instead, like shouting out, “What are you thinking, God? Why in the world would you expect thanks for THIS?” It’s really hard to thank God when all that seems to be present is depression and despair.
And I know how selfish that sounds. “Poor me – I’m not getting everything I want and everything isn’t perfect.” While I’m sputtering to God about something terrible happening to me, I rarely have any kind of compassion for all whom God loves. (Yes – everybody!)
Do you remember this from last week? Emotions are worth having – even savoring. Emotions are worth addressing. So there’s no need to feel bad and then feel guilty about feeling bad. What we’re called to do as followers of Jesus isn’t to never have any emotions – but rather to realize that we are not the only ones having them. That can be a comfort in knowing that others feel this way. It can also lead us to a place where we aren’t so self-centered and instead live out love, compassion, and justice in all the world.
Going forward, I can look to God in hope during the troubled times. I can pray for and work for justice to all whom God loves.
I’m not going to get it right every time – probably not most times. But I can start there. I can start from a place where things seem really good and remember to live in hope when it’s not.
In most, if not every situation, that’s all I’ve got – If it’s backwards – so what? It’s a start, right?