Joshua Tree at sunset

Giving Thanks in the Midst of Turmoil

by Abigail Conley

Having lived in a few different iterations of church, my song knowledge is skewed. The older hymns considered essential by many WASPs elude me; a slice of time in evangelical praise songs are well known. One of those songs remains a favorite, “Blessed Be Your Name.” The first version seems to be released by Matt Redman. These are the opening lyrics:

Blessed be your name
In the land that is plentiful
Where the streams of abundance flow
Blessed be your name

And blessed be your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be your name

The song continues, going back and forth between the good and the bad, still claiming, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” It is a beautiful, ongoing confession that God remains present, even attentive in the worst times.

This week, I received an end of the year email from my accountant. Normally, they provide end of year tax reminders and advice. This year, the email was a professional version of, “We have no idea what’s going to happen.” Choose something and we can have much the same conversation.

It is our strange calling to still proclaim and trust in God’s goodness. We are not alone. God’s people did this through the destruction of temples, through exile, through persecution. God’s people trusted in God’s faithfulness through plague, famine, and war. With this cloud of witnesses, we still give thanks.

And so I give thanks.

I give thanks for the 7-year-old who invited me to her school’s Thanksgiving program. Unprompted by parents, I received thanks and hugs afterward.

I give thanks for the teacher who skillfully taught kids, more than a hundred second graders, songs like “Tommy, the Thanksgiving Turkey.” It’s sung to the tune of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” if you’re wondering. The ones with speaking parts excitedly came to the microphone, too.

I give thanks for the woman who said, “If they need socks and underwear, they should get socks and underwear. It shouldn’t count as a present,” as we went over the wish list of the family our church sponsoring.

I give thanks for the people checking in with the elderly, the recently moved, the single adults, making sure they have a place to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

I give thanks for the people who say, “Yes,” against all odds.

I give thanks, because it is Thanksgiving. The holiday is secular, but for people of faith, the call is holy.

Because even as the turmoil threatens to turn to chaos, still we say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

For the Lord will surely be faithful.