Whenever tragedy strikes, we make statements like “That really puts it in perspective.” And it’s true. Jarring events impose themselves on us, forcing us to remember the treasures we have neglected. Treasures wearing our rings, or wrapped in footy pajamas. And then, when the sadness fades, we revert again to our old patterns, glorifying the trivial over the truly precious.
Do we need bad news to keep us grateful? Do we need death and sickness to remind us of the beauty of life? Are we that pathetic?
In a word, yes. As a society, I’m afraid we are. But we don’t have to be.
Perspective comes when we zoom out to get a wider view of our circumstances and start asking the big questions. Our problem is that we only seem to zoom out after negative events. What if we stopped waiting? What if we turned reflective in times of joy?
In the past two months, my life has changed significantly. I bought a house for the first time (hence my blogging delinquency). It happened after more than five years of living in various cramped quarters with my five kids. Tiny kitchens, not enough bedrooms, and very little space. I spent plenty of prayer time mired in “WHY” questions.
This morning, however, is different. I am lounging in my new palace. There is ample space for sleeping and playing, two family rooms, a massive kitchen, and a lamppost out front for endless Narnia references. What’s more? It has a fenced-in yard to keep Jack (our six year old autistic son) from wandering away.
We love this home. It’s our home.
What’s more? Jack finally started calling us “mommy” and “daddy.” Something just clicked for him last month. No, he hasn’t been healed. He is still mostly non-verbal, and his condition is still labeled “severe.” But he loves us, his family, and he finally calls us by name. I cannot put into words how much this means to us.
So allow me, now, to zoom out through a wide angle lens, right here in front of you.
Why, God? Who am I that you would bless me so? What did I do to earn your favor? This gorgeous wife? These five beautiful children? This magnificent home? And God, I don’t get it: how could you fill my son’s heart with so much joy? He loves me even when I get exasperated with him.
God, why do good things happen to broken people like me? People who blow it so often? Why have you put me in a place with fathers in my life who challenge me and love me and help me to become the man you’ve made me to be? And why—oh why—in beautiful Oregon of all places! You baffle me with your generosity. You give such marvelous gifts. I only wish I could understand You better.
Friends, thanksgiving is a discipline. Can you imagine how different life would be if we embraced it as such every day?