I saw this meme over on the Naked Pastor and it struck a chord with me. Over the years I have struggled with knowing how or if to give thanks to God for what I perceive to be blessings in my life. I hear people who act as if God has answered everything that they ever asked for. And on the one hand I am happy for them and want to join them in thanking God.
I have heard people thank God for giving them a job just before their last pay check ran out. They thank God for giving them a child when they were just about to give up. They thank God for healing them or a loved one. And some thank God for what appears to be quite trivial matters. They thank God for finding them a parking space at the market or helping them to find a good deal on a new computer. “It was certainly the Lord at work,” they say, “how else can we explain the way that everything worked out.
And then I think about all of the people that do not get their prayers answered. The person who doesn’t get a job and is now living homeless. The couple who are never given a child or, as in the meme, the person who does not see a loved one healed or spared.
I also wonder about people living in poorer, oppressed economies who pray the same prayers and yet God does not seem to answer their prayers. I wonder how I can be thankful to God for hearing my prayer for say a job or to heal me of a minor aliment, but they are asking God to give them their next meal, a drink of water or protection from their enemies.
I wonder if God only hears my prayers and not theirs or if my socio-economic situation is really what is helping me and not God. Numerous times my wife and I have been provided for and directed in ways that seem to only be explainable as divine providence. But then I consider all of those who live in circumstances less fortunate than me and I wonder if God has anything to do with it and whether it is more a result of my being a white, middle class American.
In the end I tend to be thankful for what I have, but I also am a bit shy of giving God direct credit as in “look what God did for me” because it is hard for me to understand let alone explain why God didn’t do it for someone else. This meme does a good job at illustrating the paradox I feel.
How about you? Do you ever experience or think about this tension and how do you deal with it if at all?