Posted by: Shawn Ragan | November 27, 2008

Thankful for Joys and Sorrows

Mother of God Icon - The Joy of All Who Sorrow

Mother of God Icon - The Joy of All Who Sorrow

Last night we did a Thanksgiving Vespers in church.  There was a line during the service when our priest, Fr. Mark, thanked God for both the joys in our life and the sorrows.  It is not common that we thank God for the sorrows or the struggles and challenges that we face.  Yet, if we are truly thankful to God, we must be thankful for the whole.  This is one of the things that has impressed me so much about Orthodoxy, the way in which it sees the whole of life, not just a slice or a segment.  Of course, though, it is the fullness of the Faith.

True love must be both for the good and the bad.  God does not just love the good, but He “causes the sun to shine on both the good and the bad” (my paraphrase) and He loves us so much that He sent His Son to save us “while we were yet sinners.”  God’s love is for all, and this is perfect love.  We must love all – not just our friends or those we find agreeable (“for even the Gentiles do that”).  We must even love our enemies, as Fr. Stephen Freeman said, and I paraphrase: “One only knows God to the extent that he loves his enemies.”

The same is true for Thanksgiving.  As was said in Vespers, we must not only be thankful for the good.  One might add, ‘for even the Gentiles do that.’  We must be thankful for the sorrows we have faced, we must be thankful for the challenges and the hard times.  We must be thankful for ALL things, and then, in that way, we can express real and true Thanksgiving to God for all of our life – the whole of it, which is all, in reality, His gift to us.

Happy Thanksgiving.



  1. Thanks and God Bless – Happy Thanksgiving

  2. Very true. It’s almost a natural (after the fall) inclination for us to praise God when all is going good, and to curse God when things are going bad. We need to remember that even the bad things in life are sent from God to test us and allow us to grow stronger.

    God bless!

    IC XC + NIKA

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