I was sick the last week and a half—the “doubled-over-in-pain, stick-close-to-the-toilet” type of sick. Miserable and frustrated, the bug lasted longer than I desired during an extra busy work week. Nothing about this scenario was convenient, not even the weight loss.
Honestly, after several days of agony, worried thoughts began to plague my mind—What if this isn’t just a bug? What if something is really wrong? I was at a low point in my tummy woes. My mind felt scattered, my blood sugar was low and dehydration loomed. Coming to my senses, I drank a lot of water and finally sat before the Lord, consciously acknowledging the worries in my heart. Choosing to go to Him created a moment to listen and receive His peace. Joy and gratitude slowly replaced my fears and frustrations.
Being in pain and modifying my responsibilities last week gifted me with time to reflect on what happens when life isn’t going the way we’d like. What joy means in daily life, not just in theory, is an important topic for us all. Is there ever a good time for life’s inconveniences or losses?
I firmly believe gratitude is one of the marks of a joy-filled life. The challenge is when life is shoveling out heaps of unforeseen woes. How can we be grateful when circumstances stink? Thankfully, we can still choose gratitude.
Gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness” (New Oxford American Dictionary). A healthy heart of gratitude does not ignore challenges or pain. However, gratitude does punch worry in the gut, weakening worry’s hold on our thoughts of the future, both the imaginary and the real.
This week, let’s slow down and take a moment to consider what isn’t going well, where we may be disappointed or frustrated. Give that list to the Lord and ask for His help. Listen for His words and receive the peace that we crave. Then, as part of this holy moment with God, may I suggest writing down or verbalizing in prayer the following three areas of gratitude?
1. Gratitude for what WAS
We are blessed. Sometimes we experience loss before we realize how good we had it. We don’t realize how important our neck was until it is kinked and painful to move. We can and should express thankfulness for what we experienced in the past.
2. Gratitude for what IS
Even as we walk through normal or abnormal frustrations and challenges, thanking God for our limits is a powerful act of surrender. Sometimes we are sick. Sometimes we have to ask for help. Even amidst the frustrations, there are hundreds of minor and major blessings in our lives, daily conveniences we take for granted. There is always good in every season. Even if it takes a bit more searching to find it, with our antenna up, we will find it.
3. Gratitude for what WILL BE
The best part of this life is that we have a future that is bright. If we know the Lord, this life is not the end! Heaven awaits. The best is yet to come. We can rejoice and give thanks for the future we’ve been promised and the joy of being with Him for eternity. It’s coming!!
As you face another day and another week filled with a wide gamut of life experiences, “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). And may you be spared from the horrible stomach bug I experienced!
What is one thing you are thankful for today? Share in the comment section below.