It’s hard to know how to write a post on blessings the day after terrorists have killed 7 people and injured 48 others in my home city of London. It brings back memories of growing up there with the threat of IRA attacks just part of day to day life – even the unknown, unimportant little suburb that I lived in had its local railway station blown up.
I’m tempted to adopt a similar approach to the main UK political parties and suspend this Blessing Jar series for a short time. However, I’m also aware of the Biblical command to ‘give thanks in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5.18).
But how do you give thanks in circumstances like these?
Well, what strikes me is that the command is to give thanks in not for the circumstances. Perhaps it means acknowledging the awfulness but also remembering things to be grateful for. So here are the things that I’m thankful for in the midst of the horror:
I’m thankful for the speed and efficiency of the police which surely prevented further bloodshed.
I’m thankful for our amazing and brave emergency services, for the technology and skill that will hopefully save lives.
I’m thankful for our British determination to ‘keep calm and carry on’, for our refusal to be deterred from our daily routines and our democratic values.
I’m thankful, as a Christian, for a listening Father who I can throw all my difficult questions and emotions at.
I’m thankful for an empathetic Saviour, who lived in tumultuous and violent times Himself and understands our fears.
To be honest, that’s about as far as I can get.
Because in the midst of finding things to be thankful for, I am struggling with feelings of helplessness and anger. I am struggling to understand the motivations of someone to carry out such attacks as we’ve seen in the last 3 months in the UK. I’m struggling to understand such evil. And I’m struggling to understand how an all powerful God can stand by and let this happen even though I believe so much in the concept of free will, struggling to understand how He balances justice in one hand with love and mercy in the other, struggling to trust that He will ‘work all things together for good’.
So all I can do, as I try to stay with this discipline of counting my blessings each week, is echo the Psalmist’s words:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 43.5)