“Glory to Thee for calling me into being
Glory to Thee, showing me the beauty of the universe
Glory to Thee, spreading out before me heaven and earth
Like the pages in a book of eternal wisdom
Glory to Thee for Thine eternity in this fleeting world
Glory to Thee for Thy mercies, seen and unseen
Glory to Thee through every sigh of my sorrow
Glory to Thee for every step of my life’s journey
For every moment of glory
Glory to Thee, O God, from age to age” (source)
One of the most breathtaking characteristics of a truly holy person, someone who is pure in heart and has seen God, is this tendency, this inclination, to truthfully give God glory for all things. When you read about the saints, or hear about contemporary Christians suffering persecution or watch godly people suffer the loss of health or loved ones or other sorrow, this characteristic is a theme.
It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow, which happily coincides with my recent reflection (obsession?) on (with) this phrase. It’s almost a cliché to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: It’s easy to thank God for the stuff that seems good to me. I suppose this is an appropriate starting point – learning to give God glory for the “good” things – but it is just that: A starting point. After all, how do I really know what is “good” for me? I perceive sweet, gentle, pleasant, fun, convenient things as “good.” But as our priest so often says, if you’re sick and the doctor prescribes a bitter medicine, wouldn’t you take it regardless of how unpleasant?
“Glory to God for all things” means that I trust Him to absolutely act correctly, to accurately provide exactly what I need for my greatest benefit, to prescribe the perfect cure for my soul-sickness.
I am so unbelievably far away from living this out, it often seems. And I am so absolutely terrified of really opening willingly toward God’s molding, shaping, hand in my life. I’m afraid of suffering, I’ll admit it.
But this is the path I am on and I am curiously drawn deeper into this life of trust and welcome and thanksgiving. In the same breath that it is terrifying, it also helps make so much sense of what I see in the world around me, in the lives of others and even in my own life. Maybe if I start on the “easy” stuff now, I’ll be more prepared to say this when the harder stuff comes around.
“Glory to God for all things.”
In case you didn’t follow the link to the source of the quote above, this is from a hymn called “Glory to God for all things,” (also called the Thanksgiving Akathist) which has been attributed to Fr. Gregory Petrov, who supposedly wrote it before his death in a Gulag prison camp in 1940. Alternately, it may have been written by Metropolitan Tryphon of Moscow (a Russian bishop during the Russian Revolution) as per this source.