By Caryn Rivadeneira
Two Thanksgivings ago, I was in a panic. We were out of money. And by "out" I mean dead broke: run through the savings we had relied on while my husband shuttered his business and looked for employment. The money I'd received from book advances had carried us for a while, but since mortgage companies and utilities still come looking for money every month and since kids need food and clothes and shots without regard to income, that money evaporated quickly too.
Though I had some freelance gigs, I had no idea how the main expenses of our life would get covered. I was terrified. And hardly in the mood to be thankful.
Of course, I knew I should be "counting my blessings," tallying up the many good things that were present in my life, but it felt fake. Forced and untrue. My desperation was such that every thing I'd thank God for - clothes, heat, food - only fed my worry over how much longer those "blessings" would last.
So when I opened my Bible that morning two Thanksgivings ago, I resisted the typical psalms of thanksgiving and went straight to the laments. One of my favorites - Psalm 69, in which David is once again stuck in the mire, crying out for rescue, as he chokes and gasps on the floodwaters ready to engulf him.
In that Psalm, David was panicked, terrified, desperate. Like me.
And yet, unlike me, David was thankful.
"I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving," David writes. He does this because, "The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people."
Then, in Psalm 70, while still desperate for rescue, David says this: "But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, 'The Lord is great!'"
David thanks God simply because God hears his cries and loves his hurting people.
Reading that - on my unthankful Thanksgiving - caught something deep in me and turned my mood, and the day, around.
I never did count up my blessings that day - because it still felt trite and untrue - but I did join David in his ancient song of thanksgiving toward The Blessing. Toward the One who from generation to generation, from beginning to end has heard and will hear, who has known and will know, who has loved and will love me. And all of us. Whether we're in a place of abundance or in a place of desperation or anywhere in between. Whether we're in the "mood" to give
thanks or need to lament. We've got a God who hears, who knows, who loves. And for that, I'll always be thankful.
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of Known and Loved: 52 Devotions from the Psalms (Revell, 2013) as well as the forthcoming Broke: What Financial Desperation Revealed about God's Abundance (IVP, 2014). Caryn lives outside Chicago with her family. Connect with her at www.carynrivadeneira.com