In Everything, Give Thanks
Late last Monday night, Greg gave our outdoor cat, Misty, an extra helping of dinner and went back inside. That was the last time either of us saw her–she didn’t show up for breakfast and hasn’t shown up since. While posting and passing out flyers to advertise her as missing later that week, I found out that two or three other cats all went missing around the same time, as well as a dog, not to mention that our other outdoor cat, Miss Gabby, disappeared several months ago. I went with the kids to the animal shelter to make sure she hadn’t been taken there, although it didn’t seem likely, especially since when she was last seen, she was wearing her collar. A few people have told me not to give up hope, that she might come back to us sometime, but Misty was getting old and didn’t miss meals much, and I know of rumors of coyotes in the area. I don’t have any hope that we’ll see her again.
Misty was the sweetest cat I’ve ever owned–the kind of cat I always wanted to have, who sat contentedly in my lap without being pushy and let the kids pet her even when they weren’t too gentle. I miss her so much.
Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about thanksgiving, starting with one of my recent Beth Moore studies and more intensely when I read One Thousand Gifts. I started by thanking God more regularly for His blessings. I began a list in June of what God has given me that I love, just like Ann Voskamp, the author of that book, did. I didn’t do it too regularly, but God didn’t let me forget that thanksgiving was what I needed to start making a change in some of my major struggles. I remembered what Voskamp wrote, about being thankful for what looks bad to us, too–the pain and the hard times–but I didn’t write those on my list. I just tried to thank God in prayer while anything bad happened to me.
Then I got injured while training for my marathon, a marathon that has become important to me. First my hamstring went, and then my IT band, an old resurfaced injury that originally made me unable to run for several years, and therefore an injury that can carry a lot of fear with it. During the years of IT band injury, God taught me a lot about surrendering everything to Him, including my running (which used to be a major part of my identity), and He taught me to hold everything loosely with open palms, to be a daisy in the rain. So, after crying when I initially felt the injury, with God’s help, I was able to go back to that place of surrender fairly easily. I realized I needed to not only surrender my running, but I also needed to thank Him for my injuries, trusting that He had a good reason for allowing it to happen. I added them to my list, tagging them “ugly-beautiful” blessings.
But the night I did that, I could not add Misty’s death to my list of blessings. How could I thank God that I lost such a beautiful, innocent, sweet friend and pet? I could see more purpose in losing my sister or my dad, who are now at peace in Heaven with their Savior and Friend, than in losing Misty. I could come up with ideas for why God would allow me to be injured, but I couldn’t come up with any reasons why He would allow Misty to die. I asked Him for help.
The next day, He showed me that if I thanked Him for Misty’s death, it would be an act of trust for me. Do I really believe He’s sovereign and everything that happens to me goes through His hand first? What if I decided to trust He knew what He was doing even with something I couldn’t understand at all? It wasn’t too hard to trust Him when I could figure out a good reason why He would let me go through something hard, but what if I trusted Him when I couldn’t figure anything out at all?
So I wrote it down, added Misty’s death to my list of blessings, still not understanding how that could possibly be a blessing. But what a release, what peace, to choose to trust Him, especially with the hard things.
That’s not the end of the story. God didn’t have to do anything in answer to my small act of trust. But He did. First, I went running a few days later and through His grace was able to run 22 miles without pain in either injury. Second, He showed me our fish that we had bought recently for our pond that I thought had died was alive–it had been missing for a week or more. Third, a new grey cat showed up in our backyard, in looks obviously related to Misty and Miss Gabby. This cat came right to me when I called to it and let my kids pet it, acting extremely patient with them–as patient as Misty was. I don’t know if this cat already has an owner or if we’ll ever see it again, but the grace of that one day was blessing enough.
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