Hello, Hipsters and welcome to Thankful Thursday!
This week, a family in my church held a memorial for a loved one who passed way before her time.
We hear of these stories all the time and the steady sadness wrings us dry, making us brittle and cracked.
Been there? Are you there? How has life been treating you lately? There’s only a few ways we can answer this question, but there are multiple factors that influence those answers.
For me, I typically gauge that question through my current circumstances and the feelings they create. Secondarily, I sometimes look to the circumstances of those I know or hear about.
I won’t speak for you, but this filtration strategy makes my life comparable to a rollercoaster. Further, it makes thankfulness very difficult.
Because circumstances can be very bad in this world! Name a category and I guarantee that an influx of thoughts or emotions will immediately come rushing in.
Finances, family, friends, work, health, housing, religion, school, or social issues.
After looking over that list, and probably adding some items of your own, what did you think? Feel?
If you’re like me, The Verve’s classic, “Bitter Sweet Symphony” just came to mind.
“Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony this life.
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die.
Well I never pray,
But tonight I’m on my knees, yeah.
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah.
It’s just sex and violence, melody and silence.
No change, I can’t change, I can’t change, I can’t change,
But I’m here in my mold, I am here in my mold.
But I’m a million different people from one day to the next
I can’t change my mold, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.”
What despair! Seems far more bitter than sweet, but it’s so relatable.
I’m mixed on literally every single topic mentioned above, a cocktail of positive and negative thoughts and emotions.
And perhaps this is just me, my personality, or some other detail of my psyche, but the “bad” often far outweighs the “good.”
This is the irony and tragedy of bittersweetness — even the good is tainted. This is no sweetness at all.
So how can someone like myself, and others, with all that goes wrong in this world, be thankful for life?
1) Despite my feelings, I can be thankful for life because I get to choose my perspective.
I’m not defined by what happens to me but what I allow to come through me.
2) Despite my circumstances, I can be thankful for life because I get to choose what I dwell on.
Present suffering is not my permanent standing. (see Rom. 8:18)
3) Despite my feelings, I can be thankful for life because I get to choose faith.
No, this is not a counter to Calvinism; I’m speaking in practical, everyday application.
Through faith, a whole world of wonder and beauty is made accessible. I can choose whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. (see Phil. 4:8)
4) Despite my circumstances, I can be thankful for life because through faith I get to choose becoming an agent of God’s kingdom, combating evil in our world.
I cannot solve everything, but my contributions contend with the natural, downward spiral of reality. This is how I sweeten the sour.
Life in this world is a bittersweet symphony. And we can’t control much of it, but we have far more potential and capability than we often assume.
We may even be victimized, but we can rise above victimhood.
There is freedom, there is power, there is support. We have been invited to partake in the greatest, grandest love story — the redemptive romance where Heaven kisses earth through our us.
So, how is your perspective?
What is your mind and heart dwelling on?
Are you finding what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy? If not, how is your faith?
How are you engaged in God’s kingdom come, combating the incessant evil in our world?
We will always contend with the bitterness of our circumstances and feelings, but their substance has been evicted. Only the hologram remains. With them out of the way, we are free to move into the sweetness that God has.
Keep the HOPE, and thankfulness, Hipsters! Stay sweet!