As Thanksgiving grows closer here in Canada, I am reminded of the positive impact that gratefulness has on my life. Well, in actuality, I’m reminded, with a heavy heart, how much thankfulness has been absent from my life these days. I have been caught up in the busy life of a young family, struggling to get an active toddler to actually go to bed each night, getting up several times a night with a 6-month-old baby who is teething (or sick, or just doesn’t sleep through the night). I’ve been avoiding news from around the world, and nearby, especially when all the headlines seem so discouraging. I’ve even been turning off my favourite podcasts when the topic gets too dark or discouraging. How is it that I could be authentically thankful for the darkness of the world, the brokenness of people around me, and the difficulty of raising two small boys in just such a world. I don’t want to spiral down into cynicism, but I also don’t want to slap on a social-media-friendly facade of happiness either.

I think that the promise of the gospel – to live in hope in the tension between the dark and the light of the world – is what is most authentically encouraging to me these days. My first impulse is to expect that a Loving Saviour of the World would transform all the darkness into light, which is quickly countered when my cynical side sees all the reasons why that is not possible. What actually brings me a deeper comfort is that, the God of the universe has promised to walk with us through the complexities of life, looking honestly at the darkness, while providing companionship for the journey. When I have cried out to God for answers and a plan, my most vivid response from God has not been, “it will all be okay,” instead it has been “I will be with you.” I am grateful for God’s presence in the complexity of life.

I am grateful for God's presence in the complexity of life. A Prayer for Canadian Thanksgiving: Click To Tweet

For others who are also journeying in this world that has both darkness and light, I have written some words of thankfulness (or at least a desire for thankfulness) that we can pray together.

Prayer for Canadian Thanksgiving

(Regular type for the leader. Bold italics for communal voices)

Creator God, we recognize your hand at work in the world around us as leaves turn from summer green, to autumn yellows, oranges and reds. What appears to be death, is really part of the bigger story that will unfold in the all too quickly coming winter, and bring back life in the spring.

Plant in us the certainty of spring, even as we watch autumn leaves fall from the trees.

Creator God, we recognize your hand at work in the lives around us as we celebrate new life, successes and beauty. We also see your presence beside us as we walk with heavy hearts through grief, failure and brokenness.

Abide with us as we grieve and celebrate, as we fail or succeed. Thank you for your presence.

Jesus Christ, we see your redemption at work in the transformed lives of the people around us – freedom from past wounds and transgressions. Growth into people who are more caring and gracious than we used to be. Yet, we also long for more redemption. We long to see more transformation of dark places which still inflict injury, and spread doubt. We long for more of Your Presence in Canada. Help us see the the reality of the culture around us by your Light, and give us wisdom in how to invoke your Presence in each specific context.

Transform the darkness, and give us eyes to see the light in the people around us.

Jesus Christ, we see your healing touch around us and in us. Thank you for caring deeply about our hurt, deep enough to not leave us hurting forever. Yet, we also see so many places that still need your healing touch – both on display though symptoms of addiction, poverty, selfishness and greed; but also unspoken hurts which have been kept secret, been denied or are unacknowledged. We long for healing to flow into all the deep places of our lives, and into all the regions of Canada.

Give us thankful hearts, in place of hurt. Give us hands of healing as we journey alongside our friends and neighbours.

Holy Spirit, we feel your movement in the world when we hear beautiful music, watch a striking sunset, or hear the laughter of friends. We are grateful for your intimate touch that connects us to eternity, and to our deepest joys. Yet, we also long for your breath to blow away injustice and hate. Bring a Your Spirit of Reconciliation to people who are in historic and current conflict in our cities, neighbourhood, and families.

Breathe thankfulness and joy into our lungs, give us courage to face Truth in the world around us.

Holy Spirit, we are grateful for your sustaining power to fulfill the call on our lives, to face boldly dark realities of our country, and to simply not give up in spite of pain and evil. Draw near to us, in the faces of those around us, in the whispers of creation and in the beating of our own hearts.

Fill our hearts with peace, as we gather courage to live in the tension of our complex lives.

Thank you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.