Ok, so I fell down my basement stairs.* Actually, I slammed down the stairs totally out of control, my feet going out from under me, hitting every one of the steps on my backside. I ended up on the bottom step in a heap, my left leg bent under me and my right arm wedged over me in between some counter top material stored next to the side of the stairs. Great!

There I sat, doing a quick internal damage control assessment: Let’s see – I’m o.k. (check). No sharp pains coming from anywhere (check). I can move my leg out from under me, and straighten it (check). Nothing is broken (check, check). My left side is a bit sore, but my back and head feel o.k. (check). Got my right arm free (apart from minor skin abrasions, I can still flex it (check). All I feel is a significant contusion bumping up under my skin on my right glute (which took the brunt hit on each step bumping down the stairs. (Check). Deduction: Amazing! I survived the fall!

But, before I moved off that last step, I bowed my head and gave thanks. Thanks not so much for what I had, but for what I didn’t have: a broken back, leg or arm, a cracked rib, head concussion or open wounds. For that matter, I didn’t have a fall backwards down the stairs! This all the more filled me with gratitude for what I did have: damaged pride, hurtfully calling out, but which I would not privately repair or replace at any time, AND a deepened ache on my “backside,” painfully calling for ice, but which I would privately treat over time. I had been given grace, mercy and deliverance THIS fall. I was extremely thankful.

Why write about this humiliating event? Often when Thanksgiving rolls around we take time to acknowledge those things for which we are thankful. Usually we tend to be focused on what we have. Not a thing wrong with that! We should be grateful for all that we have been given, taking nothing for granted. Now, this may work well in a season of plenty; when “the harvest is full.” We easily give thanks following a season of bounty, but what about a season of want? When thrust into a season of pain, where hardships continue to come in waves, so all that was good and solid, suddenly slips out from underneath you, what then? There may seem to be very little for which to give thanks, because there is precious little that you actually have in your sudden season of want. This can feel terribly hurtful & humiliating, when it actually is helpful & humbling.

So it is precisely right in your hardship (“at the bottom of the stairs”) when it is most helpful to first focus on what you do not have that you would not want, rather than focusing on what you do not have that you do want! In my case, when I got thinking about what might have been (worse case scenario) it immediately helped me be more accepting, even grateful, for what I got instead! In so doing, you will find perspective, as well as gratitude for what you still do have, be it ever so humble.

Let me illustrate. Some artists like to draw a picture using what they call “negative space.” Simply put, it is shading in areas with black in such a way as to allow the naked eye formulate a picture out of the remaining untouched, white or “negative” space. In other words, the picture comes into bold clarity by looking at what is not.

So, when it comes time to give thanks to the Lord, it may be for what is: a family, your house, the job, success in some venture, your health. Great! But if you have hardship in some of those areas, try focusing on what is not: your kids are not in total rebellion or not in trouble with the law, your house has not been taken out by a flood or fire, you are not fired, or you are not disabled or fighting terminal cancer. It may take a bit of creative thinking for each individual, troubling, circumstance, but by looking at what is not you get the clearer picture of what is, for which you then will be grateful.

So, would I rather not have it happened that I fall at all? ABSOLUTELY! It was a serious pain! I certainly would not have wanted that! Yet when I considered the alternatives of what could have happened, I gave thanks after the fall.

May the Lord Jesus Christ grant you a clearer picture or perspective, as you pray through your fall season, or any season of want.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV