Monday Musings for November 23, 2020
Yesterday in worship we played a video of a song that is special to me. It’s called, “Thank You Lord,” but since there are so many songs with that title, usually the whole first line is used: “Thank You Lord for the Trials that Come My Way.”
It was written in 1972 by Dan Burgess. I first heard it in 1978 when Helen was rehearsing it in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, Vancouver, Washington. I barely knew her, but that may have been the moment I fell in love with her. It took her a little longer.
It’s a strange concept. Thanking God for the hard things in life. Actually it comes straight from the Bible. Romans 5:3. “We rejoice in our sufferings.”
I know I’m always recommending books, but I’m always finding new good ones. Like The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt. They introduced me to the concept of “anti-fragility.” A china teacup is fragile. Drop it and it breaks. So you need to handle it with extra care. A plastic cup is not fragile. Drop it and it will bounce. It’s no better than it was before, and it’s also no worse. So it doesn’t really matter how careful you are with it. But there are certain things that we might say are “anti-fragile.” Our bones and muscles are examples. When we stress them, they don’t break. They don’t stay the same. They get stronger.
The book makes the point that children are that way too. The more we protect them from harm, the weaker they get. The more we let them experience the bumps and bruises of life, the stronger they get.
I’m using a passage from this book in my November 29 sermon. This is from a speech Chief Justice John Roberts gave at his son’s middle school graduation:
From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend on your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
In others words, “Thank you Lord for the trials that come my way.”
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Some of us have cancelled travel plans or have pared our invitation lists. This has been a year of trials. But this is also most definitely a year to say, “Thank you Lord!”
I have two links below. One is the song played in worship yesterday. It’s from a newer group, “The Asidors.” That’s their last name, and yes, they are siblings. The second link will introduce you to Dan Burgess who wrote the song in 1972. You will hear a bit of the backstory and also another beautiful rendition of his song.