1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. (Read the rest of the chapter, here.)
Y’all. Jonah is giving thanks from inside a fish. It reminds me of a story my pastor told one time: two park rangers were stuck in a service cabin high on a mountain, stranded by a fierce blizzard. Every night they sat down to a meager meal and one ranger would pray. “What do we have to be thankful for?” the other ranger asked. “God has seen fit to sustain us with this food, and I am grateful,” the praying ranger replied. Finally, the food ran out, yet the ranger continued to pray. “What could you possibly be thankful for, now?” The incredulous ranger asked again. The praying ranger’s reply: “That I still have my appetite!”
Womp, womp. Pastor humor, I know. But I thought it was funny. Regardless of my comedic talent (or lack thereof), it illustrates a point: Both the hungry park ranger and Jonah found reasons to give thanks in less-than-ideal situations. The park ranger didn’t save his gratitude for when he was safe off the mountain, he gave thanks in the middle of the blizzard. Jonah didn’t save his gratitude until he was vomited out onto dry land, he gave thanks from inside the fish.
I’m not saying to be a total Pollyanna, affecting a naive attitude to willfully ignore the hard truths in life that need to be confronted. Through-out my writing you’ll see I’ve done the opposite: calling people to more engagement over and over again. But cultivating a practice of Thanksgiving can help put small problems in perspective, and in turn give us more capacity to focus upon the real problems that need tackling. Things are far from perfect right now: COVID numbers are surging right now, there are real supply chain problems (which I experienced second-hand trying to get quotes for some new farm infrastructure – lumber prices are skyrocketing!), and we still have over a month left of an administration that seems ill-equipped or just indifferent to do something about it. But for now, I am healthy. And my business is healthy enough that I’m looking at buying new fencing and sheds. And even with the pandemic, 2021 looks like it will be another year of growth for the farm. Praise God, praise God, praise God!
It’s hard to be grateful. There are a million little annoyances every day. This is probably one of my shortest entries and I’ve literally been interrupted once to find boots, twice to put on boots, once to take a toddler to the potty, and twice to look at some little piece of nonsense the girls brought in. All I want to do is get this little entry done in one sitting, and quickly! But look – even with some stops and starts, I’m there. So again, praise God. And praise God my children love me and want to be with me and can rely on my for help, because soon they’ll be grown and I’ll miss their smallness. But perhaps give it a try this week, won’t you? When you get annoyed, try to find something to be grateful for in the moment. You may be more blessed than you realize. And praise be to God for that, too.