Thankfulness & Contentment

People put lists of things they are thankful for all over the place. They put them on blogs and in emails (and I assume they are more than splattered all around the world of facebook). They share them with family members around the feasting table. I even saw someone at the store the other day with a list of “thankful for” items on a bookmark pinned to their uniform.

You know the typical things people include. We all hear about them. Over and over and over.
And that’s good.
It’s excellent, in fact.
Go, thankfulness.

I mean, we should be thankful for God, Christ, salvation, redemption, our families, our friends, our churches, our jobs, our homes, our clothing, our food, our toys, our gardens, our hobbies, our safety, our nation… You name it, we ought to be thankful for it. Right?

Okay. So how come nobody writes lists like this:

I am thankful for:
three more babies in heaven this year (which makes seven total)
seven handmade little wooden caskets that sit in the china hutch in our dining room
being pregnant six times in the last twenty months
thousands (& thousands) of dollars spent on medical treatments that didn’t save our baby’s life
empty, unused baby paraphernalia
unworn baby clothes
unworn maternity clothes
crying six times a day
a womb that knows how to start the job but not complete it
specialists around the country who are desperate to work with me, but still haven’t found our answer

Anyway… if we are supposed to give thanks in all things (and yes, yes, we are…), then these things top my list (which nobody wants me to put on my blog, write in an email, or read out loud at the feasting table). But I don’t think I can honestly say “I am thankful for” any of these things. I can say the words. But that’s just about where it stops.

I am thankful for heaven.

Yes, I am. For a thousand reasons. Seven of them are redheaded reasons.

Our best friends are reading a book that I read a few years ago (The Rare Jewel Of Christian Contentment), and they shared this excerpt with us for Thanksgiving that I will now share with you:

[Contentment] is not opposed to making an orderly manner our moan and complaint to
God, and to our friends. Though a Christian ought to be quiet under God’s
correcting hand, he may without any breach of Christian contentment complain
to God. As one of the ancients says, Though not with a tumultuous clamor and
shrieking out in a confused passion, yet in a quiet, still, submissive way he may
unbosom his heart to God. Likewise he may communicate his sad condition to his
Christian friends, showing them how God has dealt with him, and how heavy the
affliction is upon him, that they may speak a word in season to his weary soul.
~Jeremiah Burroughs~

7 Replies to “Thankfulness & Contentment”

  1. Melissa! I don’t know what you think about this, but – I read “be thankful in all things” as not being thankful FOR all things. Finding thankfulness in the midst of wrong is not the same as being grateful for wrong. I am not thankful for the death of my babies. But, I am thankful for God’s grace & goodness through those deaths. Does that make sense?

  2. Erin…I was thinking along the same lines.

    Our hope is in heaven. I can’t wait for us all to be there, and for you to hold your babies in that beautiful place.
    O Lord, please ease this heavy affliction!

  3. ditto to Erin. Exactly what I was thinking and how I’ve always felt.

    In the same way, as Christians we always have our joy and hope in the Lord… we are not, however, always happy. We should never lose our joy in the Lord and yet we will not always be happy. God doesn’t promise us 100% earthly happiness once we join His family. He does give us joy & peace that are often hard to put into words. Its the reason as we go through deep, deep trials, we don’t turn our backs on God or reject God’s word or His promises. We cling to them even more. They give us hope, peace and even joy, when the world says “how can they still go on?”
    Joy is a much deeper emotion that happiness. Happiness comes and goes, but our joy in the Lord is eternal.

    Praying for you, dear friend. I’m so sorry you’re aching, but there’s nothing wrong with you for doing so. I thought of you on Thanksgiving; praying that God would remind you of things to be thankful for, because I know if I were in your shoes… finding things to be thankful for would only bring me to tears.
    When I’m grieving, the last thing I want to do is make a ‘thankful’ list 🙁
    I think the best promise I can cling to, is knowing we’ll see our babies in Heaven someday!
    Having people we love go before us, makes me long for Heaven even more. And you have no idea what testimony those babies are leaving behind. The example you and Steven carry out, is just further testimony of God’s goodness and the joy He gives. They’re not wasted or forgotten. They are each one God’s precious gift and we mourn with you during this time of another (another) loss 🙁

    Love you <3

  4. Good words, all.
    And, Erin, do you know I think I have always thought *for* as part of that, not just *in*. Going to study it out and discuss it with others; I think that’s such a good point though.
    Stef, your words are so kind. We know God is glorified in this. We can’t feel the goodness in it, but we trust that He does.
    Jaclynn, we are so thankful for the hope of heaven. Without that, umm, I would be in such complete despair, instead of just tasting the edges of it. God is kind to give us His glorious promises unto a thousand generations.

  5. *hugs*
    I don’t have the words and I know words won’t make it better anyway.
    Just prayers and sending love your way.
    I can’t wait for Heaven- no more sorrow, no more tears!

  6. Melissa, I was going to write something similar to what has already been written. Our pastor did a study on the passage you referenced and he pretty much said what the others have said….you could say, “through every circumstance give thanks” but it doesn’t mean God is demanding us to give thanks for everything.


  7. What helped me through my multiple miscarriages, was being thankful for what I DID have. I know how hard it is, I have only one less child in heaven than you have. But focus on that sweet little boy. He made it through, to help YOU through these tough times. And your husband and family. It’s hard to be thankful when we’re surrounded by grief, but it’s necessary for our own mental, physical and spiritual health to pick ourselves back up, and find something to TRULY be thankful for. Something that helped me was to think about the child(ren) I DID have, and remember that some women are never able to have ANY children.
    One thing that was important for me, was to accept my lot, and realize that I may never actually be able to carry a child. Soon after I did that, I became pregnant with my eldest daughter. Maybe your son is destined to be an only child. And maybe instead of bemoaning that, you could embrace and accept that?

    I love you Melissa, and I hate to see you going through this. And I hope that what I’ve written hasn’t hurt or offended you. I’m simply offering you some ideas that helped me go through a similar situation.

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