It would probably be an understatement if I said this week didn’t turn out quite like Chels and I had planned it! As I wrote in the previous blog, Davy had her surgery and was supposed to go home, Chels got strep that made its way into her kidneys, and I was starting to get sick as well.
24 hours after I wrote that post Davy was running a temperature of over 101 degrees due to what seems like a virus, I had a 100 degree fever with body aches and Chels was so sick that she could hardly move. So, yea…I would say the week didn’t quite turn out like we had planned.
It’s been what I call a Psalm 13 kind of week. The kind of week where you are left asking God “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” Then you fight to remember the second half of the hymn. “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Many have asked me how I’m doing? The answer is complicated…
I’m frustrated, exhausted, sick, tired, worn out, but at the same time fighting to be thankful, joyful and Spirit-filled.
The Scripture tells me to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
I learned in the NICU that thankfulness is a choice, no matter what circumstance you’re facing. I was also challenged with creating a thankfulness mindset through reading the The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom.
While in a German concentration camp Corrie and her sister Betsie would lead Bible studies. In one of the times of prayer her sister thanked God for their community, the Bible, the ability to have studies, and then her sister thanked God for the fleas that had infested their barracks!
Corrie lost it at that moment, letting Betsie know there was no way God could make her grateful for a flea. Betsie responded, “”Give thanks in all circumstances,”‘ she quoted. ‘It doesn’t say, “in pleasant circumstances.”Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.'”
Little did they know, but the fleas were a blessing to them. The fleas were keeping guards from coming to their barracks. This allowed them to do the bible studies, spend time in prayer together and enjoy some level of reprieve from abuse and harassment that other prisoners experienced. We don’t always know how God is moving for his glory and our good. His ways are higher than our ways. Nevertheless, we can be certain he is always working.
We are called to be thankful in all circumstances, not just pleasant ones.
However, being thankful isn’t just something that you’re going to be able to conjure up when you want. It’s a discipline to be cultivated. One of my friends recently wrote a blog where he made the statement – You can practice gratitude in all situations, but it is a practice.
You must practice thankfulness. It must be cultivated. When we practice thankfulness in times of ease, we’ll be more likely to practice it in times of hardship.
A Navy seal once said, “Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training. That’s why we train so hard.” I believe suffering is similar in a way. Under trial, affliction, suffering, or hardship you don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your training.
We must be a people who train themselves in godliness (1 Tim. 4:7) and the spiritual disciplines. We must be a people studying the Word regularly, praying often and cultivating thanks in times of leisure, so that we’ll continue those disciplines when in times of toil.
Practically, to train for and cultivate joy in my life, I have started to write three things I’m thankful for every morning when I wake and every evening before I go to bed. In this past week here are just a few things I’ve written down:
- Dell’s Children Hospital and their amazing care.
- My friends.
- My dad taking time to come hang out with Davy and I.
- Worship music.
- Chels’ mom taking the week off of work to help take care of Chels.
- The Word of God.
So even though I’m exhausted and worn out, I’m still thankful. For we are called to be thankful in all circumstances, not just the pleasant ones.