Editor's Note: In conjunction with the release of his latest collection, The Acoustic Sessions, singer-songwriter Jason Gray has written reflections on the personal meaning each song has had to him. He graciously shared his thoughts on "Thank You For Everything" below.
"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment."
-- Romans 5:3-5 (NLT)
Many years ago I heard a story in an episode of the TV comedy Northern Exposure. After being struck by lightning, a young man named Ed is desperately trying to make sense of what it means, or even if it means anything at all. His friend Marilyn responds with a story:
"My uncle once told me about a warrior who had a fine stallion. Everybody said how lucky he was to have such a horse. 'Maybe,' he said. One day the stallion ran off. The people said the warrior was unlucky. 'Maybe,' he said. Next day, the stallion returned, leading a string of fine ponies. The people said it was very lucky. 'Maybe,' the warrior said. Later, the warrior's son was thrown from one of the ponies and broke his leg. The people said it was unlucky. 'Maybe,' the warrior said. The next week, the chief led a war party against another tribe. Many young men were killed. But, because of his broken leg, the warrior's son was left behind, and so was spared."
I've never forgotten this story and it has helped me see that I'm not always the most reliable interpreter of my own life. There have been many things that have happened over the years that I would have labeled as "bad" at the time, but that later produced some of the best, most beautiful things in my life. So, who can say?
How do we learn courage unless we face something that terrifies us but we have to act anyway?
How do we learn forgiveness unless someone hurts us so deeply that we wake up one day and realize that we don't like who we are becoming--bitter, angry, and closed off--and that if we don't figure out this forgiveness thing, we may lose our own heart?
How do we come to trust the unfailing love of God unless we fail it over and over and over again and find that it never leaves?
Fear. Betrayal. Failure. As time goes on, we discover that these are among our most faithful teachers, and that it was only through them that we could learn tenacity, strength, and grace. The longer I live, the more I'm learning to be thankful for everything, with the hope that it is all being worked and woven together for good.
"Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing."
-- James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Jason Gray is a singer-songwriter who is part of the Centricity Music roster.
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