Daily thanks. It’s like Thanksgiving every day. Except you don’t always get pie and turkey. Sometimes, you end up with a flooded basement and your credit card gets stolen. I’ve never actually had my credit card stolen, but my car was stolen once. The entire thing. As I stood in the parking space where I had parked it eight hours earlier, I don’t recall “thankful” being one of the first things I felt. Rather than take a deep breath and utter thanks to God for whatever he was doing for me in that moment, I believe I uttered a lot of words that began with F and S. As a broke college student, I had more worry and stress than I did thanks. How would I get to work now? How would I get home that night?
Give us this day our daily bread.
We ask for it every time we pray the Our Father. Matthew (7:7) tells us to ask, and it will be given to us. And it is. God gives us our daily bread even if it’s burnt—if it comes in the form of something we don’t accept or necessarily want. Perhaps God does this to humble us. Maybe to give us a chance to come to him for counsel in prayer, thus growing in our relationship with him. Maybe it’s to help us grow as servants. To learn to accept others as they are. To be grateful. To trust. To forgive. Maybe all of the above.
I often think of daily thanks as being thankful for all that I have that’s good. But finding the good things in unpleasant events is a little trickier. In fact, when I do find it, it takes a lot of pride swallowing to say thanks for an embarrassing moment or a verbal altercation with an acquaintance. Giving thanks for the hard moments of our lives requires a fair amount of humility.
The Rolling Stones said it best: “You can’t always get what you want … you get what you need.”
And who knows what we need better than the one who made us? Every moment of every day, in every challenge is a chance to grow in faith. An opportunity to live for God and to serve him with love in thought, word, deed, or prayer. It’s not easy but you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.
I don’t always see these things as a chance to grow spiritually. Actually, I never do. It’s easy to be thankful for happy things because who doesn’t want to thank God for the amazing moments and people in our lives? We don’t want to be thankful for rude people who come in and out of our lives. The Bills. Budgets. Family struggles and personal challenges. But if every moment is a gift from God, then we have to be thankful for them because God brings good things from bad. Just because we can’t see the shore through the storm doesn’t mean the land is not there.
After a messy falling out with my parents, I longed for the day when I would feel at peace with everything. For seven years, I ebbed and flowed from various levels of anger and never once considered the arguments, deceit, and lies as something to be thankful for. Then, one day, I stumbled across a book called “Forgiveness: A Catholic Approach.” I read it in two days and finally went to speak to my parish priest. I begrudgingly started to dedicate one decade of my Rosary to my parents and asked for the strength and love to will their good. Over time—many, many months—it got easier until it felt natural to ask for good for them. My anger was replaced with peace, and my pain was replaced with the understanding that we all experience pain and we are all imperfect.
I look back now, and I realize that without this situation, I would not have learned how to forgive—or what it even means. I would not have learned how to see my own imperfections, which was key in understanding why things happened the way they did. Without this “thankless” struggle, I would not be the person I am today—I would not be trying to be the best possible me that I can be. From something ugly and painful came more good things than I would have ever experienced had any part of this journey been a “happy” experience. And, believe it or not, I have a much easier time these days reminding myself to be understanding when people become difficult. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t fly off the handle and get upset. It just means that when I finally calm down, I can usually find some imperfection that person has that I probably have too, or can understand. It makes moving forward a lot easier, and I’m happy to say grudges are a thing of my past.
So, give thanks for that flat tire in the rain, because maybe humility is what you need at that moment. Maybe stopping and slowing down is what God’s asking of you. Use your pile of dirty dishes as a chance to meditate on your day and talk to God while you wash them. He will show you what good comes from the monotony of daily life. Take your good and bad moments and tell God about them. Perhaps in the middle of your complaining, you will find a twinkle of something worth being grateful for. Ask God to show you.
It’s there, and he will.
Every day, God will give us our daily bread.
Even if it’s burnt.