Yesterday night I stood on the curb and watched a church woman’s house burn. The flames engulfed the house, flaring out of control and destroying everything. Smoke could be smelled for miles as it poured from the house. And the sermon of gratitude from the morning took new shape as this woman stood in utter shock. I had nothing to offer this woman but prayer. She repeated for a while that the last thing she was doing in the house before going to the evening church service was cross-stitching Christmas presents for her grandchildren. “I don’t even have my medicines or cold creme.” Then she explained to the fire marshal, “It’s like my brain’s just gone. I’m not even making sense.”
Thanksgiving is a season not of turkeys and cranberry sauce, but of gratitude for all that we have. There was a horrible loss of all possessions, “I only have the clothes on my back,” the poor woman said regarding the next few days stay in a hotel. A friend quickly ran to her house to gather extra pajamas and Pastor reassured that anything she needs will be paid for by her church family. “I lived there for 30 years,” came an unreal-to-me realization that past memories were gone. And nothing that could have been said on that curb would have changed the fact that everything was gone. Everything was gone.
So does this woman have nothing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving? Everything is gone. Value is held in all kinds of things and I have absolutely no idea what it would feel like to watch so many blessings that were given instantly taken away. Yes, this woman has friends and family to hold her through her loss (Thank you, God). But I really can’t imagine what it would feel like to be put through such a test of gratitude.
It was amazing to witness the Body of Christ working last night, embracing a sister in the midst of tragedy. It was awesome to see the Body of Christ doing what the Body of Christ should… praying and standing beside this sister when all the neighbors had gone inside and the flames were but rubble. And as can be told through the rambling of thoughts and the smell of smoke in my hair, I am still at a loss for complete thoughts and well-poised words regarding the magnitude of thankfulness required even in utter tragedy. How can one produce such gratitude in the midst of loss? Only through the blood of Jesus.
So please take a second to say a prayer for this fellow sister in Christ as she comes out of her shock and lets go of what has been taken. Please pray that she is able to continue to be surrounded by those who love her as she takes healing steps. Please pray that she is able to embrace a greater gratitude for Jesus Christ despite the difficulty and how easy it is to doubt God in all this. Please pray. Prayer has an even greater impact than we will ever know.