1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Many people on social media use the month of November to name something they’re thankful for each day. I’ve done this in the past, but I didn’t this year. Normally, I would have highlighted the best part of my day or someone/something that stood out to me as good. But I’m realizing that in thankfulness for the difficult things, my perspective is re-calibrated.
Totaling my car at 39.5 weeks pregnant reminded our family that God is our provider and sustainer. Strangers stopped and helped me get Grace out, call Alex and give him directions, call the police, find my glasses. One even called us a few hours later to follow up and see how we were doing. It was a nightmare, but God was with us. Grace and I had some minor seat belt burns and were sore for a few days. But we were all protected. I am humbled and so grateful every time I drive/see our current vehicle and am reminded of how God provided. And almost every time I get behind the wheel of a vehicle, I pray for our trip...even if it’s just 2.5 miles to Aldi. Because I am not capable of keeping my family safe. I am not in control, but I know Who is.
At 11:34 AM on September 13, our son was born not breathing on his own. I was in surgery for hours afterward. Our traumatic birth experience also reminds me that I am not in control. I want to be very, very badly, which shows a lack of intimacy with and trust in my Creator. Sometimes roots of bitterness sprout up. I mourn our experience, wallowing in it. Then He reminds me to be grateful for the gift of life. Mine. My son’s. I’m not entitled. No day, no moment, is guaranteed. No day, no moment should be taken for granted. Make the most of every opportunity. He’s placed me here, now, for a reason. As God has provided for my family, blessed us, and encouraged us through others, I want to be available for Him to use me in those ways. I’m embarrassed by the evil in my heart. Convicted. Overwhelmed by Him. By His love. I pray all the more fervently for friends longing to hold a babe, friends in/approaching labor, for families of babies in NICU or ICU, friends who suffer loss, for hurting hearts to sense the nearness of His presence, and for my own heart to know and trust Him more.
I’m thankful for our older home. Everywhere I look, I see updates, projects, and improvements that need to happen. There’s this tension between contentment and dreaming of our house at its best--with all monetary constraints removed, necessary issues addressed, and Chip and Joanna Gaines dream projects completed. In the tension, I remember that this house is not my permanent home. I’m so thankful for its shelter, for the people living in and visiting it, and for the memories being created within its walls, yet I realize that I was never meant to be completely comfortable here. My real home is not this world, so these unfinished projects point me to my eternal home. They remind me of the soul housed in this body and they remind me that I am an awful lot like this house. There are so many things in me that need to be changed to become more like my Creator. Who will never leave or forsake. Who loves, who corrects, who knows, who orchestrates, who comforts, who creates, who teaches, who provides, who sustains, who orders. Who is Emmanuel. Who is God with us. Ultimately, I’m thankful for Him. I’m thankful that He left heaven to be born a babe in Bethlehem, that He took the punishment of all my selfishness as he hung on a tree, that He is alive, that He has defeated the enemy, and that He is with me. No matter my circumstances, He is someone to be thankful for.