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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 [3], 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.