One of my friends has a pet peeve I’ve decided to adopt, and I would like to introduce y’all to it. It’s called a gratitude band aid. Let me give you an example. As you’re carving the turkey this week, you accidentally cut off your finger. You reply, “That’s ok, I’m grateful I still have the other nine!” For reals right now?! You scream and yell and morn the fact that you are now a finger shy of a full load. Are you grateful you still have the other nine? Yes, but that doesn’t solve the fact you just cut off a finger, and probably ruined the turkey in the process. As a culture and especially as believers, we use gratitude as a band aid. I can’t tell you how many times in a crisis I’ve had well-meaning believers come along side and “encourage” me with scripture. “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice! The joy of the Lord is your strength.” Pastor Blaine used to say, don’t create theology based on one scripture, take it in the context of the whole Bible. We love to focus on the feel-good verses but what about the all the other times in scripture that it talks about mourning, weeping, groaning, and lamenting. I know this seems like a weird thing to bring up for thanksgiving week but stay with me for a minute. 

Jason and I were sitting on the back patio the other morning talking about some hard things we were facing, and my eyes started leaking. Come to find out eye leakage is contagious, so Jason’s started to leak too. As we sat there silently crying, I mean with leaking eyes, Megan came out. She observed the scene and sat down next to us. Megan is highly susceptible to eye leakage, so it didn’t take long for her to join the party. After a few minutes of sitting in the silence Megan choked out, “Can I ask why we are all crying?” Y’all, we died laughing! The laughter after the tears was so sweet and the shared emotion is something I’ll never forget. She still doesn’t know the full reason behind the tears, but it didn’t matter. She wept with those that wept. I’ve realized over the years that we really don’t know how to handle hurt and broken very well. We try to fix them and make them happy. Justin recently said I don’t know how to handle people crying, me too. It’s awkward. Maybe that’s because we’ve forgotten to weep with those who weep. To sit there with them in their pain, to not point out that they have nine other fingers, but to mourn the loss of the one.  

Back to the feel-good verses. The Bible does talk about rejoicing, and being grateful, but it’s more in who God is than in our circumstances. For instance, “Rejoice in the LORD always,” not in your circumstances, not in the nine fingers you have left, but in who God is. There are hard times that we walk through and to pretend in those moments it’s all sunshine and roses is not Biblical. Job had everything taken away from him. His immediate response was not one of gratitude and thanksgiving. He tore his clothes, shaved his head and fell to the ground with these words, “The Lord gives, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” He’s response was a declaration of faith in who God is, not one of celebration. He sat in his grief and didn’t lose sight of who God is. King David didn’t claim sunshine and roses, it was the valley of the shadow of death. Not very warm and fuzzy feeling. His words weren’t, “I’ll frolic through the shadow of death and leap for joy!” It was “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” He doesn’t fear because of who God is, yet he is still distraught because he needs the comfort of the rod and the staff. The sunshine is so much better after the rain. After being sick we truly appreciate being healthy. We can’t skip the valley to get to the mountain top.  

So, in this season of gratitude and thanksgiving let’s remember that there are those out there who are hurting. That gratitude is not a band aid that makes it all go away. To be ok with sitting with someone in their hurt and just be there. Not to fix them or make them happy. Not to pester them with questions or try to understand all the ins and outs of what has happened. But just weep with them and hold them. And that way when it’s time to rejoice you can truly share in their joy because you have first walked with them through the valley.    

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