Ungrateful. I’d have to admit that this is a good, albeit unfortunate, characterization of myself. This is what I came up with as I was racking my brain in hopes of an appropriately themed post for the holiday. I’m not saying that I’m incapable of gratitude, as there are many things I am grateful for, but the number of things for which I’m not is astonishing. Rather than merely take stock of that for which I’m already grateful, I want to look at those things I’m not and see if I can’t give them a second chance. After all, as we established Monday, there is plenty of grace in the now.

Hallelujah, grace like rain falls down on me
Hallelujah, all my stains are washed away, washed away
“Grace Like Rain” — Todd Agnew

Closed doors. I often pray that when I’m seeking God’s guidance He both opens and shuts doors accordingly. However, I’m really praying that He opens a bunch of doors. When I look back, the closed doors have been just as important in my life as the opened ones and even more so in some cases. But this isn’t the way I typically look at the situation. Whenever a door is closed, I continue to labor over the decision because “I didn’t really want God to close the door, but now that He has, is it really closed or am I just thinking it’s closed? I don’t know,” and the debate rages on in my head. While I pray for this and God answers those prayers, I’m not satisfied with the answer I get.

Missed opportunities. I don’t know of a person on earth who is thankful for these bad boys. However, they are equally a gift as the opportunities of which we’ve made the most. They have shaped my life just as much as the other opportunities. Looking back, there are several opportunities I almost did not miss, but had I not, my life would be vastly different. Many of these opportunities would have taken me away from doing what I love and have been created to enjoy. The problem was that I didn’t realize that at the time. In His providence, God enabled me to miss these opportunities and continue to be more like the person I was always meant to be.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” — Romans 8:28–29

There’s more. There are so many things that have come up the past couple days, but these have been just a couple that I’ve been able to start processing the past day or so. What is it for you? Is it a speeding ticket, losing the championship or maybe losing your job? These are all hard to be thankful for, but I think we owe it to ourselves and to our God to find His grace in the midst of what we see as calamity. He is not quick to turn away those earnestly seeking Him (Jeremiah 29:13).

It’s Thanksgiving, so let us be thankful for all that we’ve been given. However, let’s challenge ourselves and one another to be thankful also for the things for which we find thankfulness difficult. When we get down to it, grace surrounds us in our victories as well as our defeats. Each has its own perfect place in God’s plan for our lives and each life a perfect place in the Story of redemption unfolding in our world today. Eat some good food today, love those around you and keep your mind away from that dirty word. The alternative is to be bitter and ungrateful.