Defiant Gratitude


Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to The Lord.
Let us give thanks to The Lord our God.
It is right and just.

We hear each week in the Eucharistic Prayer that it is our duty, always and everywhere, to give God our thanks and praise. We are to bring forward our grateful hearts as an offering of thanksgiving. There are times when this is so natural, those periods of life when praise and thanksgiving seen to pour from our hearts and flow from our lips in an easy stream. Thank you, God.

But what about those other times in life? Those periods of loss or suffering or pain? The times when we struggle to even show up to Mass or to get out of bed in the morning or to make ourselves pray anything other than “Lord, have mercy”?

Even in those times, we are called to give God our gratitude.

It is no small feat to be grateful when you have just lost a child, or when you are grieving the death of a spouse or parent. It is nothing little to rejoice and thank God when a cancer diagnosis is made or when it reappears. It hurts to praise God when the things dearest to us—our health, our homes, our families—are lost.

Tragic circumstances can make it feel impossible to thank God.

But Jesus is Lord over our tragedies, too.

The church proclaims on the final Sunday of the liturgical year that Christ is King over all things. Christ is King of the universe—the planets, the stars and galaxies, the spaces between them…even the black holes, those places in space that are devouring themselves, where gravity sucks everything into the collapsing center from which even light cannot escape. Places of pure and utter darkness.

Sometimes our suffering feels like that.

But Jesus is Lord, still. Lord over the black holes. And when it seems to be darkest, the defiant act of acknowledging Jesus as King is a form of gratitude.

We are entering the darkest time of the year, when our days grow shorter and our nights longer. From this dark place, we sit and wait for the light to come back. We mark the weeks, lighting a candle to count each one as it passes, yearning for the Light, willing it to arrive.

defiant gratitude advent wreath

It can feel especially dark if you are hurting this time of year. As stores throw up their displays and neighbors’ yards glow with colored lights and commercials command us to “be merry,” we can feel especially alone. How can we join in the celebration when our hearts feel too heavy to move?

Sometimes, sitting in the dark is our act of thanksgiving. Sometimes, sitting in the dark and confessing Jesus as Lord of all of it, even the worst parts, is revolutionary. In the dark, surrounded by our fears and worries, we are waiting for the One who can make us whole again.

Without the bright, sparkly distractions of the commercial holiday season, we are in the place where we can most easily see the first flicker of the approaching Light.

And, in spite of our pain, in spite of being unable to see anything but the darkness pressing us on all sides, we can thank God. We can always thank God, because no matter how dark it is today, the Light is always coming.

defiant gratitude quote

Copyright 2013 Abbey Dupuy


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  1. Thank you for this beautiful reflection Abbey. I find myself in an “I can’t wait” mood for Advent this year. I’ve finally learned to separate it spiritually from the “What?! Already?!” mood I seem to have sometimes in the Christmas season. I wish your family many Advent blessings!

  2. Beautiful Abbey. There are some things in life that are so hard to understand– when you ask yourself how could a loving God allow this to happen– why didn’t he stop it? I always used to believe that everything happens for a reason, but I’ve come to believe instead that everything can be used for His purposes.

  3. I’m praying that if there is a specific dark spot for you, God will wrap His arms around you and enfold you with His love.

    As you may know, yesterday my husband died unexpectedly. (I am not thinking or writing very well, so this will come out just as I think it and not as carefully crafted as I generally try to do it.) This morning, I couldn’t sleep, so I just got up. It was about 24 hours after Jonathan’s death. I’ve been so grateful that my faith hasn’t faltered. It has, however, been kind of confused. I feel a bit like a lost child, clinging to Jesus’ robe and not understanding where I am or where I’m going. This morning, it occurred to me that Jonathan’s death is a bitter gift. “Bitter” is obvious. But “gift”? Well, so many many many people have come forward through FB and other means, and it means so much to me that they have offered their words of condolence. It truly just about doesn’t matter what people say as long as they say it. I’m so glad that they are overcoming their discomfort to reach out to me. And I pray that my faith will stand by me and seep even more deeply into me. I don’t want to be left alone even more. Dear Lord, help me stay conscious of you!

  4. Love this. I think many Protestant churches’ celebrations of a “Blue Christmas” (or Advent) service gets at the heart of how this season can be such a struggle for so many. We owe it to all of us to remember all the parts of the Advent Scriptures and Christmas readings in which there is real, staggering darkness and God still shines light.

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