looking through me

Tag: confession

sacrifice of thanksgiving

I walked out of a meeting feeling overwhelmed and agitated. I knew the endpoint of the project, but I had no idea how to get there. I wasn’t even sure where to start. I felt fear building inside me, so I took a deep breath and walked outside.

My racing mind tripped on these words: “I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps. 116:17a).

Huh. A sacrifice is costly. It doesn’t happen effortlessly. It’s purposefully done. And it seemed an odd pairing with “thanksgiving.”

But it made me wonder if I—feeling inadequate and anxious—could offer thanks for the exact circumstances stressing me.

After a few more deep breaths, I thanked God for my job. I thanked Him for this project I couldn’t possibly do on my own, for having to admit I needed help, for colleagues who were willing to share information, for not knowing the right questions to ask but asking anyway, for a boss who trusted and supported me, for the discomfort of being stretched. I thanked my way through every aspect of the job.

Walking back to my office, it occurred to me I had entirely misconstrued the psalmist’s words. In the sacrificial system there was an actual sacrifice of thanksgiving, as in specific offerings to be made in gratitude for deliverance from trouble or for a blessing received. The act of giving thanks was not the sacrifice.

Yet, in giving thanks for the sources of my anxiety, I exchanged my desperation to know all the answers for willingness to trust God’s sufficiency. So . . . perhaps my unorthodox interpretation of the sacrifice of thanksgiving wasn’t completely wrong—because it hurts in all the right ways to give thanks for what doesn’t feel like a blessing.

It didn’t change the tasks, but it changed me.

 

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pondering prayer

I know I can pray for things that matter to me, that are personal, that I want . . . but it’s hard. They’re difficult words for me to say.

When—if—I pray for myself, I string together generalities laced with caveats and disclaimers. But yesterday I cut through the fluff. I asked God to not only meet a need I’ve been praying about for others but to show me if maybe I had a role in it. And asking that meant admitting I wanted to have a role in it. I wanted to be a part. I said the words. Out loud.

In that moment I learned what I already knew: God knows what I want, even if I haven’t voiced it. But He is a patient, patient God. He doesn’t rush to the response before the request.

I cry out in general terms, “have mercy on me!”

But when a blind man uttered the same words, Jesus didn’t heal his specific need in response to his general petition. Jesus knew the unspoken request, yet He asked, “What do you want me to do for you?”

And He waited for Bartimaeus to articulate his deepest desire—”Rabbi, I want to see”—before He healed him.

Jesus’ commentary cuts to the heart of my struggle: “your faith has healed you.”*

Asking for mercy doesn’t take much faith. It’s vague enough to sound spiritual without risking anything. It’s unmeasurable.

Asking for restored eyesight—and believing it will be provided—takes tremendous faith.

It can feel self-centered and selfish to pray for myself. And maybe it is. Yet at the same time I’m afraid I’ll be disappointed if the answer is no, so it feels safer not to ask.

But perhaps praying for myself is less about the size of my ego and more about the depth of my faith.

 

 

 


*Mark 10:46-52

 

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