So on my way to collège today I paused briefly to look at the splendid view. And (despite my umming about God in the last post) I muttered a brief Thank You under my breath. But it started me thinking (What? Again?! I hear you cry in tones of disbelief…)
We say Thank You to God for nice things – family, friends, views, cream cakes, finding a passport or a parking space – but we don’t (at least I don’t!) say Thank You for the crap things – deaths in the family (though I suppose we might if it was a “blessed relief”), earthquakes in Haiti, Osama bin Laden, losing a passport – But if God gives us the nice things, and we say Thank You for those, doesn’t he give us the crap things too? So should we say Thank You for those?
I mean, if our friend gives us a horrid present which we don’t like, we don’t just ignore it. We still say Thank You, even if, under our breath, we are muttering “OMG, that’s horrible!” – why? Because it’s a gift from our friend. So should we still thank God for stuff, even while muttering “Really, that’s foul!” to ourselves. And would he mind if it was an insincere Thank You?
This reminds me of a story in “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom While Betsy and Corrie were in Ravensbruck Betsy insisted that they gave thanks for everything.
“What, even the fleas?” demanded Corrie.
“Yes, even the fleas,” Betsy replied. So they gave thanks for the fleas – Corrie rather grudgingly joining in.
Later, they found out that the reason their prayer meetings were rarely disturbed by prison guards was because the guards didn’t want to catch fleas. Give thanks for everything…
But it’s difficult to do so. Especially for the crappy things. And I’m not convinced that in fact it’s right to do so… I mean, in the article about Corrie that I linked to it says:” In the movie The Hiding Place, Ten Boom narrates the section on her release from camp, saying that she later learned that her release had been a clerical error. The women prisoners her age in the camp were killed the week following her release. She said, “God does not have problems. Only plans.”
So she gives thanks that she was released before she was killed. Yes, and the women prisoners who were killed? I bet their family weren’t seeing God’s plans. I bet they weren’t giving thanks. For them God “does it again.” Out comes another crappy incident.
“Don’t worry,” we’re told. “All things work together for good for those who love God” Yeah right. That to me is just a complete cop-out verse. I can imagine the people in Haiti turning round to punch the first person to spout that at them. What about the woman who’s just been told her husband/son/father/boyfriend has just been killed in Iraq? Can it really be true? And does it really mean that God allows crappy things to happen – or even makes crappy things happen – because it will (eventually) “be good for” those who love God?
I don’t know. I’m just musing. And possibly having a bit of a sideways swipe at a God I don’t understand. But then, if I understood, maybe he wouldn’t be God….