For a long time, actually years, I would ask the question of God, 'How did we get here?' with here being a not so good place. Now I find myself asking Him the same question, 'How did we get here?' but with a heart overflowing with gratitude. So many things to be thankful for.
But in those challenging years, when I asked that question from the not so good circumstances, I knew it was important to also actively be seeking something to thank God for. Sometimes the only thing that came to mind was what Jesus had done on The Cross - the gift of salvation. Of course that is no minor thing, it is a life-changing gift Jesus gave to each of us.
But when your world appears to be falling apart, it can be so easy to focus on all things negative and even lose sight of Jesus' gift of eternal life. In those times of trauma and crisis, our perspective can, I have found, become easily distorted.
Finding those one or two things to be thankful for enables us to come to the place where we remind ourselves that there is a God in Heaven, and He loves us. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks, for this is God’s perfect plan for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 TPT
This week I was preparing for a talk an event in a couple of weeks and God reminded me about the importance of thankfulness. It was a time almost nine years ago, only three days after I had been told, "There is a mass in your child's brain."
Here is an excerpt from my book about that morning when I came to a place of thankfulness, enabling me to see that God had gone before us, and He was with us.
How wonderful it was to wake up at home on Saturday morning, rather than in the hospital. We were confident that the surgeon would do his very best for our daughter, and even more confident that our God would get us all through, no matter what the outcome. However, in the midst of this trauma, I was still a mum with very raw emotions. It was my daughter who was in a fight for her life.
It was a beautiful summer morning and I went for a ride on my bike. As soon as I rode down the driveway, the tears began to flood. I called out to God, with an ache in my heart, ‘She is only three years old, why does she have to go through this?’
I spent the next thirty minutes riding around our local streets, pouring out my heart to God. I returned home with peace in my heart and the strength from God to continue through the day.
The rest of the family was still sleeping when I returned from my ride. So I sat down with my journal and began thanking God for all the good things about this horrendous circumstance. I came up with a list of twenty two things to thank God for.
My list included things like friends with the specific knowledge needed for the diagnosis after the initial doctor’s misdiagnosis. My mum’s renewed passport arriving on the day of diagnosis, so she was able to be with us on the following day. Victoria’s health and well-being, aside from the impact of the tumour, she was healthy and not in any pain. My sister and her family, who lived in New Zealand at the time, just happened to be holidaying in Byron Bay, Australia. They had planned to visit us the following week, so they came down a week earlier. Marshall’s school teacher had already been in contact with parents via email, two weeks before the first term of 2011 commenced, which meant I was able to email her about our situation, and she called on the Junior School teachers to pray. I had finished breastfeeding Alexandra in December, so didn’t have to do a quick painful wean. Earlier in the week I had done a lot of cooking for school lunches. The freezer was full of muffins and cupcakes.
Now, when I think about that time, I wonder how I was able to only three days after hearing some devastating news, come to this place of finding so many things to be thankful for?
I believe the answer is two-fold; Firstly, God's grace - it really is sufficient for every situation we find ourselves in.
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
Secondly, years of practice (prior to hearing that news), of choosing in the times of disappointment and anger (eg miscarriages; marriage challenges; business difficulties) to process with God, drawing closer to Him and growing in my understanding that God is good all the time.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8 NKJV
Through each of those previous circumstances I had cried out to God, told Him exactly how I was feeling, found comfort from that still small voice, and His promises. Little did I know that all those experiences were preparing me and my heart for this situation with Victoria. And for whatever else our future holds. God is continually equipping us for our future. And learning to be thankful in all circumstances is a key aspect of that equipping.
In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP
Thankfulness brings us to that place of knowing that God is with us, He has not abandoned us.
And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 NKJV
Finding at least one thing to be thankful for, especially our salvation, enables us to lift our eyes to Jesus, our Saviour.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and [finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
So today, lets take some time to be still and consider what it is that we have to be thankful for, lift our eyes to Jesus and offer a prayer of thanksgiving.
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