Joy and sorrow are so closely related that they both produce tears. And in God’s great story, the deepest losses produce for us the prospect of the deepest joy and contentment. This makes no sense in the world’s eyes, but this is the nature of the gospel.
To be grateful is to be appreciative of benefits received, to be thankful. But how is someone to be grateful when dreams die? When illness, disability, betrayal of deepest friendships, or any number of unalterable losses come crashing into one’s life? Whence comes gratefulness when hard providence seems to steal joy from the future? This was the plight of Job. Bereft of virtually everything but breath, Job wished his life had never been.
I’ve been there. I remember times when my dear wife and I said (out loud to each other!), “Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to die and be with Christ than to continue in this grief and sorrow?”
Being human means we possess both memories of the past and longings for the future. But when past memories bring pain and future longings will be impossible (in this life) to fulfill, gratefulness is a difficult but precious thing to cultivate. But cultivate it we must. We must protect it, nurture it, water it, and guard it with all our might, like a fragile plant with a small shoot coming forth. Someone has said, “God does not despise small beginnings.”