[This little story is an “aside” follow-up to Does the Right Decision Bring Inner Peace? Part One: Hard Obedience to Clear Commands.]
It’s absurd to thank God for something you don’t like!
But Ephesians 5:20 says do it!
“[Be] …giving thanks always for all things to God the Father…”
Always. For. All. Things.
Not just in all things, like 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says. For all things.
That’s what the seminar speaker was telling us to do, giving example from her own life (an example Ann VosKamp would call “hard eucharisteo”): thanking God for her beloved boyfriend repeatedly two-timing her!
I could see reason for gratitude in this speaker’s case. She should rejoice at losing a guy like that, at learning what he was like before she got tied up permanently with him!
But love being blind, I guess she didn’t see it. So her prayer of thanks for this “bad” thing was wiser than she was, in her own human self.
I didn’t know then that my own similar thanksgiving would turn out wiser than my human feelings, too.
But still possessing the “foolish” wisdom of the fresh new believer, as I sat listening to her I seized the concept for myself, and purposed to put it into practice.
Opportunity arose in quick order…
Four hours of driving, quiet rural roads and crowded superhighways. We’d returned, refreshed, I and my toddler son, from visiting my parents. Now the long driveway that wound among trees welcomed us back to “the little house between two highways” that we’d been calling home for six months.
Just six months.
I’d agreed to a six-month, then month-to-month, lease, because finding any affordable rental had been so nigh impossible, and this little cottage had perfectly answered my prayer for shelter.
The house wouldn’t even have been available except for the owner’s putting the property up for sale and wanting the building available at such short notice. The resident couple, not liking that uncertainty, had decided it was time to press ahead and buy their own place.
So I figured I could trust God to keep such a Godsend for us after the six months expired.
Well, now they had. Expired. Exactly. And now what did I see, as I rounded the curve, but men clambering around with surveyor’s instruments!
“No,” I groaned. “Oh, Lord, no.”
Sighing, I climbed out of the car, unbelted my little one, all along thinking of that seminar and my commitment.
Inside the house a moment later, reluctantly I did it: “All right, Lord,” I said. “Thank you! I thank You surveyors are out there, which means this place is sold! I don’t like this at all!” (as my tone of voice made clear). “But thank You anyway. Thank You!”
I hadn’t learned yet that scripture also says to be grateful. That one I certainly wasn’t following. I didn’t feel grateful. I felt whacked in the face! I felt deflated, defeated, frustrated. But I said thank You anyway, at least.
I waited for the notice, the bad news. A letter. Something.
Nothing came. That week, or the next, or the next.
A knock on the door did one evening, right while I was navigating the challenge of cutting the hair on a constantly moving three-year-old’s head, blond locks scattered everywhere in the disheveled livingroom.
Leaving chain hooked to door jamb, I opened the door enough to see the lanky man who introduced himself as my new landlord-to-be and let me know that I’d be able to continue renting, although no new tenants after me, but of course the rent would go up. Peering around the crack in the doorway to glimpse what he’d bought here, but seeing my mess and occupation, he graciously apologized for “discombobulating” me, and backed away to his car in the shadows.
Another sigh. I could thank God that he’d not boot me out. But could I afford any raise in rent? I could barely pay the bills already.
So I waited for expected changes, notices, letter, phone call, whatever.
Nearly two years passed! Same rent rate, and nothing happening to our little surrounding woods. Now I was moving out and moving on anyway.
So I was talking with the landlady on the phone, and she started to complain.
If only she hadn’t granted this buyer his two requested extensions! Right afterwards, both times, another buyer had appeared, offering full asking price with no contingencies—and the quickest possible closing!
I caught my breath! And thanked my Good Father—with genuine gratitude this time! Thanked him for the buyer those surveyors’ presence had announced, those eighteen months before. Just the perfect buyer!
Now here’s the thing about peace: If I’d known God better, if I’d had more Romans 8:28 and 1 Corinthians 1:25 faith in the first place, I would have had more inner peace, wouldn’t I?
Have you ever thanked God for something you just plain didn’t like?