The theme at church the next few weeks is gratitude. Sunday's sermon was an exhortation to be grateful for God's creation. The preacher brought in a log he had split to show how he had marvelled at the presence of an insect that had burrowed into the log and how he had realized how amazing it was that God provided bugs to break down fallen trees.
At first, I thought he might have been smoking pot or something, because that's the kind of thing I tend to think of when I'm high. "Wow, isn't it amazing that our fingernails grow at just the perfect pace?" "Man, those stars are so huge and I'm so insignificant yet able to ponder my insignificance, something those stars can't do."
But then I realized he really meant it, and I understood what he was saying. He told a story of a woman in a prison camp who learned to thank God for fleas because the presence of fleas in her barracks had discouraged the guards from searching them and confiscating her Bible. Creation is a marvel, and we ought to be grateful.
Now, the preacher didn't get into things like being grateful for deadly viruses and tsunamis and such, but I could extrapolate from what he is saying that we ought to seek a way to be grateful, in some sense, for those things as well as for beautiful flowers, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and other favorite things.
As a Calvinist, I believe that everything that happens was foreordained from the beginning of time and that it is the will of God. Accordingly, even though I am unable to comprehend it or appreciate it, everything will ultimately work toward God's purposes.
I don't know that I will be able to be grateful for the disease that kills me or mine, but I hope that I will be resigned to it. What I can be grateful for is the fact that I ever existed at all. Every day is truly a gift. To be ungrateful is to focus on what I didn't get. "The power of flight would have been nice."