Where Is Gratitude in the Midst of Death?

death and griefThis news came to me via text message.

“He didn’t make it. He died.”

My friend, Laura, had lost her father. A sudden heart attack took his life just two weeks before Christmas. It shook all of us. He was young and healthy.

How could something like this happen?

Fourteen hundred miles away, little Gloria, a sponsored child in Kenya, lost her grandfather. She was already without a father and now the list of loss grows. What good could come from yet another sorrow?

What words are appropriate for the grief Laura’s family is experiencing? And what comfort can be offered to a sponsored child like Gloria who loses a caregiver or a loved one?

How do you give thanks in the midst of overwhelming grief?

My honest fear is that my journey of gratitude, sparked by Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, will continue to go well for me — until an extreme sorrow comes my way. And I know such sorrow will come, because death is part of every life.

Not for a minute do I believe God wants us to shove the hurt and pain aside just so we can pretend to be thankful, to paste on a fake smile and act like everything is okay. But I do believe that what God wants from me is the confidence to bring all of the tough questions, the heartbreak and anger, to Him.

If I can continue to trust Him in the midst of deeply painful, deeply broken places, that is a gift.

If I can continue to learn more about Christ’s heart in the midst of horrific times, that is a gift.

So today, as I grieve for my friends’ losses, I ask God to infuse in me more of His character. I ask for more of His heart so that I can trust Him when those unimaginable times come for me.

Thankfulness is recognition of who He is, no matter what life offers.

4 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Gail January 15, 2012

    1 Thess 5:18 says “Be thankful in everything, for this is the will of God for you.” For me thankfulness is a key to healing in the grieving process. Being thankful for the for knowing the loved one, thankfulness for God and friends comfort through the sorrow, thankfulness for blessing we’ve been given.

    There is always so much to be thankful for, even in the deepest tradegy and grief. In thanks we find perspective and hope and healing. This could be why God asks us to always, always, always be thankful.

  2. Mike Stephens January 15, 2012

    I think the power in rejoicing in our sufferings is the truth that our sufferings usually, mine anyways, have not been that severe… yet 😉 Also praising God in the midst of suffering is what I want to do, should do , but I do not always do. God is bigger than my sufferings whether it’s getting injured in running or falling in a race or dieing.

  3. Vicki Small January 15, 2012

    I’m currently grappling, myself, with the question of just exactly how we can rejoice in our sufferings–physical, emotional, relational…whatever kind or source. Romans 5:1-5 moves from our justification through faith, ultimately to hope. But smack in the middle, in verse 3, Paul wrote that “we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; (4) perseverance, character; and character, hope.” And then he reminded us that “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit….”

    There’s nothing there, or anywhere in scripture, that I know of, that says we can be happy in suffering, in grief, or in loss. I think joy is implied, however. And I know this comment is inadequate.

  4. Michelle January 15, 2012

    These are some of my own thoughts and prayes as well. Thank you for sharing.

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