“Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands to God in heaven.” --Lamentations 3: 41
How do you give thanks? Do you like to write notes to people who have done something nice for you? Would you rather speak gracious words? Do you prefer to give a gift to say thank you?
In this month of Thanksgiving, it’s a good time of year to practice gratitude. Perhaps that’s difficult this year, as much as life has changed because of a pandemic, but it’s a worthy spiritual discipline to notice and name those things for which we are grateful. Especially those things we take for granted, like health or life or air to breathe—where would we be without these things?
Our communion liturgy includes these words: “It is indeed right, our duty and our joy, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks and praise to you, O God.” Is it really possible to give thanks and praise to God in all times and in all places? Even in grief, even in trauma?
It’s nothing new for the people of God to struggle while experiencing grief; in fact, we are not separated from God but we can cry out to God, who hears us in our grief. The Hebrew Bible book of Lamentations was written following the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E. The writer of Lamentations writes the book as five separate poems, the first four with 22 stanzas each, and each stanza beginning with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
In the Lutheran Study Bible, the book of Lamentations begins with an introductory article written by Walter C. Bouzard, which says “The reason for using an acrostic pattern in the poems is unclear. It may signal completeness as the poet or writer laments from ‘A to Z,’ or it may indicate the human need for form and pattern in times of grief.”
Calling out to God, even with questions, is a welcome practice for people experiencing grief. We can trust that God hears us and will answer! And when we practice gratitude, little by little, noticing what gifts God has given, this habit can even change our brain!
In all things, we trust that God is present with us, bringing healing and hope.
Pastor Cheryl Walenta Gorvie