When my son was very young, he wasn’t interested in getting clothes as a gift. Any kind of clothes—didn’t matter if it was pajamas with Godzilla on them or a hat with Elmo. If it was an article of clothing, he would tear through the gift wrap, see the offensive gift, pause, then chuck it to the side and look for something new.
As his mom, I sought to modify this somewhat rude behavior. The rule became, “You must pick up the gift, look the person in the eyes and say, “thank you.”
The very next Christmas, the poor child was put to the test when both sets of grandparents felt they needed to completely fill his wardrobe. He ripped open clothing box after clothing box with eternal hope, only to find shirts, pants, socks or PJs. And with every one, Ben would look at the person and say, very clearly, “and thank you for . . . this!” while his hand was already searching for the next gift.
Fortunately, the grandparents had a sense of humor—and that phrase has become part of family lore. “And thank you for . . . this!” is what we say when anything dubious, unfortunate, or uncertain happens.
Every day we get to live is a gift from God. But lately, I’ve wanted to say “and thank you for . . . this” to some of them! Everything is hard! The international, national, local and personal headlines are full of flat-out scary stuff. I sometimes find myself jumping from anxiety to anxiety in my head, usually when I’m trying to sleep, one bad thing giving way to the next bad thing, robbing me of rest and any semblance of peace. With the end of the pandemic, we’ve entered into war, ludicrous gas prices, supply chain issues, and a country as divided as it has ever been. For the last two years we’ve longed to get back to normal . . .but what if that normal isn’t ever coming back?
Maybe it’s not. And maybe that’s a good thing.
I once read that the worst thing in the world for Christians is to be comfortable. Anecdotally, that seems to be true! Look back over the last two years of your life—the two uncomfortable years of the pandemic. Is your walk with the Lord richer? Do you have a new perspective on joy? We had to find our refuge in different places during the difficulties of COVID—did you find yours in the promises of our steadfast God?
I can say (mostly) yes to those questions—but certainly not in my own power. God brought me low with many, “and thank you for . . . this” days—and then He carried me through them in His loving, strong arms and gave me His peace, the peace that makes no sense to the world.
So, maybe we have more of the unwanted “and thank you for . . . this” days ahead of us. May they prove to be the most valuable gifts He can give us.
Jen Green is co-host of Life 107.1 KNWI’s Mornings with Taylor and Jen and Listener Engagement Director. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.