I found myself on the floor, face in the carpet, feeling nothing but numb. Life had been so hard for so long that I just gave up as I hit the dining room and collapsed into a heap. I laid there in the quiet of that little apartment for a while, not saying a word. Husband had gone to work and the boo was at preschool so I knew I would not be disturbed. I had nothing left. My marriage was hanging on by a thread. We were so broke, we couldn’t pay attention. Being a mom was a heavy load to carry. I was done.
I realized I could get up or do something productive on the floor. I thought “I’ve heard other people talking about falling on their face before Jesus. I’m already here. Maybe I should pray.” But I didn’t even know where to start. I had grown up in church, lead bible studies, prayed out loud hundreds of times, and yet I couldn’t find the words to begin. I just said “Lord, I have nothing to bring you” and I immediately heard Him, clearer than if He would have been sitting in the room, say “Thank me for everything. The good. The bad. The difficult. Thank me for all of it.”
Shocked, I tried to comprehend what was happening. I started thanking Him that we had a roof over our head that day. I thanked Him for a husband who loved me, even though we didn’t really like each other very much. I thanked Him that we had one car that was paid for so the bank couldn’t take it. I thanked Him for my beautiful, healthy daughter. I thanked Him for my healthy body so I could take care of her. As I ran down my list, snot ran down my face. It was a good, old fashioned, ugly cry that started in my toes. Once I was done, I stayed frozen in position, waiting to see what would happen next. What the Lord said next would change everything for me from that day forward. He said
“Thanking me for everything removes you from the delusion of self-sufficiency.”
#micdrop. I grabbed pen and paper to write that down. I continued to write as He continued to speak over the next hour or so. It was the first time I had ever heard the voice of God and I knew I was on holy ground. I still have that written conversation and refer back to it from time to time. The creator and sustainer of the universe cared enough about me, little ol’ me, to break into my life louder than the chatterbox and speak life. It was the first time I ever FELT God’s love. It also taught me the power of gratitude.
Matthew 6:11 says “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Daily bread. Not weekly bread or monthly bread. In America, we would like to say “Lord, if you could give me my annual bread, I can take it from here. Thanks.” But His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. It is a daily dependence on Him that positions us to remember that no matter how little or how much fills our cup that day, it is ALL from Him. We don’t get to hold on to any of it.
There is a line from a Caedmon’s Call song that says “You’re only free when you have no choice.” Ain’t that the ding dang truth?!?! When we have run out of other options, we are free to live in His daily provision. Gratitude isn’t about faking it; it’s about realigning our hearts to truth of our humanity. Gratitude requires us to be thankful for things we don’t understand. It is about blessing the sun when all we really need is some rain. Gratitude always changes us, even if it doesn’t change our circumstances.
But sometimes it does. Pride and self-reliance take up a lot of emotional and spiritual space. Sometimes gratitude does the humbling work necessary for the Lord to have room to move. When we move into gratitude, we create space for a miracle. Marriages are restored. Job opportunities appear. Babies we prayed for show up and healing comes to hearts and bodies. Miracles do happen.
And sometimes they don’t. Sometimes He provides in other ways. Regardless of the outcome, gratitude forces us outside the delusion that we have any control over our messy little lives. It causes us to hold all that we have with an open hand. Gratitude reminds us that, at the end of the day, we all have to decide if we will trust in His goodness even if He never sends the rain.