Dear Friends in Christ,
Recently, I was asked to offer a prayer for a large gathering of people representing a diversity of beliefs. I read the General Thanksgiving on page 836 in our Book of Common Prayer. Afterward, I was approached by more than a few who commented on a sentence of that prayer, “We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.” They appreciated the mention of disappointment in a prayer of thanksgiving.
Giving thanks for the good things that have come into our lives is an important spiritual practice. Research into the practice of gratitude and its effects on our overall well-being provides evidence (for those who require it) that expressing gratitude is a life-giving practice. Practicing gratitude is a bit like seeing the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. It draws our attention away from a sense of discontent and never having enough to a certain quietness as we appreciate all that we have already been given.
Gratitude for disappointments and failures invites us to deepen our practice of giving thanks. The emphasis here is not simply an attitude of learning from failure or remembering to be humble; it is like a gentle nudge turning us once again toward God. Giving thanks for setbacks or absolute and utter disappointments is a practice that reminds us who is, ultimately, in control. There is great comfort in relinquishing the hubris of living as though the only thing that can save us is our own cleverness.
There is a certain peace that prevails when we return once again to God and lay down our fear of failure and its enormous weight.
On Thanksgiving, if we do nothing else, let us give thanks in equal measure for those good things in our lives and for the disappointments and challenges. May our gratitude remind us who is at the center of all our yearning and striving. God, and God alone, sustains us, especially in times of trial. The power of this kind of peace demands our praise and thanksgiving.
Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.