LENTEN CONNECTIONS: Lenten Thanksgiving

“If everything is lost, thanks be to God

If I must see it go, watch it go,

Watch it fade away, die

Thanks be to God that He is all I have

And if I have Him not, I have nothing at all

Nothing at all, only a farewell to the wind

Farewell to the grey sky

Goodbye, God be with you evening October sky.

If all is lost, thanks be to God,

For He is He, and I, I am only I.”

    Father Julian


That poem, one of my favourites, is a poignant combination of loss and thanksgiving–the ability, in the midst of tremendous loss, to remain thankful.  Isn’t that what Lent is all about?   It is a time of loss. We may voluntarily “lose” something, to remind us of our brokenness.  We think of the loss of God’s own Son, and through that, reflect on the losses sin has caused in our lives.  We consider the implications of losing our lives in order to gain life through Christ.  We remember that without life in Christ we are, truly, lost.

Lent can also be a time of great joy, and the amount of joy we feel corresponds directly to our level of thankfulness.   Thankfulness is essential to faith; I do not believe it is possible to know God and have faith in who He is without experiencing thankfulness.   Think of a cloudless blue sky on a winter morning, the dimple of a baby’s knee, the fragrance of lilac, the crunch of a perfect apple.  How can we know these things and not be filled with gratitude? This list is Gratitude 101–essential but basic.  As we grow in faith things get a little tougher.  We learn to look at the loss in our lives with thankfulness, because we know it is through this loss that God refines and changes us to become like Him.  We may not be thankful FOR the loss, but we become intensely thankful for the lessons we learn.  We learn that the ugliest situation can be the soil in which beauty grows.

The Lenten season is exactly that–an ugly situation in which beauty grew.  We are sinful–ugly.  God loves us–beauty.  Jesus died–ugly.  His death enables us to have life–beauty.  Loss and thankfulness CAN go hand in hand; Easter is proof.  But God demonstrates His love for us in this; while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)  What a great loss and what a reason to be thankful!

Prayer:  Father in heaven, Thank you for the tremendous love you have for us.  Thank you that you were willing to lose your Son to death in order to give us life.  Thank you that every situation can become valuable when you are involved.  Thank you that nothing is hopeless with you.

Contributed by Karen Vine