Today I got into a circular argument with a friend that went something like this:
"You gave up!"
"I suppose you could say I gave up. It was time to give up."
"But you should never give up!"
"I see it as faith, trusting God has something better."
"Where in the Bible does it say we should give up?"
"Well, the Bible talks about surrender as a good thing, doesn't it?"
"This isn't surrender. It's giving up."
"Well, then giving up is good."
I think ultimately what we were disputing was the question of gratitude. When life isn't the way we want it to be, how do we express gratitude? Are we grateful that we have the tools to try to change it? Or are we grateful for what we have, even if it's not what we want?
After that conversation I went for a walk. It was beautiful out and I was perfectly content. The sunsets in our little Sumatran town leave little room for discontent. And yet, pondering these questions filled me with a profound sadness. I found myself in the strange condition of joy combined with tears of sadness.
What does a prayer of "thank you" sound like coming from a little Haitian girl who just lost her house and her baby brother? From the Timorese mother of 6 whose burnt shell of a house was just flooded? From the Palestinian university student who believes the only hope for his family's future is to fight today? From the American father who has been unemployed for a year and recently had his house repossessed?
"Thank you, God, there are still people who love me. Thank you I can be with them"
"Thank you, God, that I still have my strength and can try to make a difference"
"Thank you, God, that tomorrow is another day"
"Thank you, God, that I could see your wonder in a powerful earthquake/raging flood/beautiful sunset"
How is that my own desires and concerns seem to be becoming increasingly petty?