You know how, as Lutherans, we regularly confess our sins? As I would say to my kids, it’s both a church practice and something we practice just because it doesn’t always come naturally. We confess in part to recognize sin ourselves, turning to the Holy Spirit to reveal it to us. (Isn’t it neat to think of the Holy Spirit as both the source of the conviction of sin and conviction of faith? John 16:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:5) Well, it occurred to me that sorrow and thankfulness mingle in both the Church and our vocations.
While we have pastors, the church year, and the liturgy to help us practice thankfulness toward our God because of Jesus, I for one could consider practicing thankfulness more within my vocations! Below I apply that thought to writers.
There are sorrows in writing. There is struggle, disappointment, exhaustion, and weakness. There is unworthiness, unfitness, and all the times we fail ourselves or fall into temptation. We get puffed up only to be brought low. There is sin as we sin against those we write for or try to work with.
But such ongoing sorrow coexists with so many things to be thankful for! We don’t need be full-time writers to delight in the gifts God has given to us: the quiet moments, jolts of inspiration, and that pleasant pitter-patter of clicking keys. We can give thanks to God Almighty every day for the thoughts and beauty He lets us see, for the images and symbolism, and for the hope that challenging ourselves will serve others, offering beauty and insights to the world.
Best of all, there is faith, hope, love and the forgiveness of sins by the greatest God and Savior! There is a God who hides Himself behind human efforts as a mask to continue to give and sustain His creation, as replete in truth and beauty as it can be.
So, whether you’re content or struggling right now, let’s remember that sorrow and thankfulness can go together. That repentance and thankfulness are practices as well as emotional responses, and it may be that some of us—me included—need to work on remembering thankfulness, in writing, in the church, and in all our vocations.
Consider again Luther’s explanations of the Creed: God’s gifts to us of body and soul, reason and all senses, all that I need to support this body and life. He guards and preserves me; redeemed, purchased and won me! He freely prepares, offers, and gives everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. All this not by my own reason or strength, but by the call by the Gospel, enlightenment of His gifts, His sanctification and preservation in the faith! Daily and richly He forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers, and at the last day will raise up me and all the dead, and will give to me and to all believers in Christ everlasting life. This is most certainly true.
Sorrow and thankfulness, yes. Repentance and fresh starts, too. Drafts, redrafts, the Good Book, and the Book of Life. Thanks be to God for His Son, His Spirit, Himself, His creation, and His abundant, overflowing blessing which allows us to create our own little worlds and tributes.