Most trail drovers of the Old West slept on open ground, amidst the cattle, but the chuck-wagon cook always slept on something soft under the protective cover of the chuck wagon itself. This was his traditional compensation for providing the cowhands with good chow. The drovers were typically grateful for the hot meals that he provided along their dusty trail.
A trusting form of gratitude does not merely trust that the Lord will provide a comforting reward for our efforts. It reaches deeper into the soul than that; it is a heartfelt thankfulness that he will, in his time, turn our stumbling blocks into stepping stones, a trusting belief that the grindstone of life will not grind us down, but polish us up.
Trust enables us to be thankful to God even when our plans have been shattered, knowing that this happened only because he has better plans for us. In relying more on the God of consolations than on the consolations of God, trust seeks the Giver more ardently than it seeks his gifts. Paul urges thanksgiving for answers to our prayers of petition, seemingly even before our prayers are answered: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6, emphasis mine).
An even more challenging form of trust is one that is coupled with thanksgiving amidst our desolations; it’s a deep, trusting faith that gives thanks to God even for upsetting things, not only after a long soul-recuperation, but at the very moment the hardships occur. That level of trust is not attained without much arduous and often repeated effort.
This excerpt is from the book Pathways of Trust, by John H. Hampsch,C.M.F., originally published by Servant Publications. It and other of Fr. Hampsch's books and tapes can be purchased from Claretian Teaching Ministry, 20610 Manhattan Pl, #120, Torrance, CA 90501-1863. Phone 1-310-782-6408.