Why do 4-year-olds never tire of asking “why”? I know it’s an age-old question, but almost every time I say something to my daughter, she responds with, “Why?” I can give an answer the first time and maybe even the second time, but by the third, I find myself saying what every parent has said before me, “I don’t know why, it just is!” If you’re laughing right now, I know you’ve been there before.
Of course, kids are not the only ones asking “why?” If we take stock of the questions we ask in our daily life, we may find that we ask “why” more often than we’d like to admit. In challenging times especially, a question that inevitably arises is “Why God?” Why has this pandemic hit the world with a seemingly unstoppable force? Why does such racial violence continue to plague our country? Why do I have to be separated from family and friends in this season of my life?
However, as anyone who has gone through suffering knows, the question of “why” rarely finds a satisfactory answer. In fact, the more we seek to find the answer to why, the more we can plummet into despair. As a friend recently told me, when we ask “why” in times of trouble, we are really expressing our anger and saying, “The world is not supposed to be this way!” It’s important to express that anger, but it’s also important to find our way through it.
So, if asking the question “why” does not bring us to the answer we are looking for, then what should we do? What can we do?
One answer is to be still and look more closely. Beacon Hill resident, Duane VanderBrug, recently shared a prayer with me that he wrote for his church’s worship service earlier this month. In it he took time to look more closely at what is happening in the world. Here are his words:
“‘Be Still,’ God urges us again ‘look more closely,’
- Neighbors are helping neighbors.
- The hungry millions are being fed.
- Those alone are more closely cared for.
- People are learning what is essential and to live simply with less.
- Those marginalized and most vulnerable: the poor, the aged, the refugees, the oppressed, the immigrants, the prisoners, the homeless – are more painfully visible.
- People are serving the contagiously sick at real, personal risk.
- The distance between the haves and the have-nots is very transparent.
- Injustices are clearly recognized.
- The good news is being proclaimed to a quarantined world.”
Duane’s prayer is an excellent example of seeing things from another vantage point; a vantage point that leads through anger toward gratitude. Of course, gratitude does not come by ignoring the hardship. It comes by taking a step back and allowing oneself to look around and see that the hardship is not the only reality in life. There is still good in the world, there is still good in your life.
Gratitude requires intentionality. So, let’s be intentional. Try using the prompts below to find reasons to be grateful:
- Name 1 person in your life that has shown you kindness in the last week.
- Name 2 meals you’ve had in the last week you loved.
- Name 3 moments when you forgot about the pandemic and were able to live in the moment.
- Name 4 news alerts that are reminding you that we need to love each other better.
- Name 5 ways the world is still holding together in the midst of chaos.
As you continue to navigate these trying times, may gratitude fill your life in the moments when you need it the most.
Peace be upon you,
Chaplain Travis Jamieson