This is hard.
Adoption is hard.
Life is hard.
There are so many people across the world and even in my own neighborhood facing trials and suffering far greater than mine. I'm not unaware of that.
This summer has been a challenge. We are learning that this journey of extending our family is a roller coaster. God is molding me in such a way that I am being pulled from my place of comfort to a place of transparency and vulnerability
There are two very clear things God is teaching me through this time in my life. I'm sure there are many more that aren't as glaringly obvious but for now I am a committed student of these particular two.
A few days after our latest "not so great" news I picked up a devotional book (Streams in the Desert) I often read from to find the focus verse of the day penetrating straight into my heart.
“always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” Ephesians 5:20
Really? I don’t know why I was surprised . . . but I was. Thanks was the last thing that had come out of my mouth or even crossed my mind.
The next day a quote,
“Do you believe God only when the circumstances are favorable, or do you believe no matter what the circumstances may be?” –C.H.P.
The third day a reminder,
“Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou hast made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Fathers sees further than its own.” –George Matheson
My grandmother came over with the intention to shake me from my place of hiding in the darkness. As I cried to her that, “I just don’t understand” she, with tears streaming down her face, responded,
“I don’t understand why my 17 year old son had to die in a car wreck. There are some things we just won’t understand.”
She went on to say that during the time after her son’s death she found herself calling to mind things to be thankful for; her husband, her other children . . .
Even after all of these clear messages I still struggled to go to God’s word and cling to the truth, the promises. If I did then that meant I had to accept the things I didn’t like.
So I picked up another book, One Thousand Gifts (by Ann Voskamp). I bought the book several months ago only for it to be added to my “Books to Read” pile. I’m not sure why I chose this one to read now. And I’m not necessarily endorsing or standing by it theologically. However, it did continue to point me toward giving thanks.
The author recalled time after time when Jesus gave thanks in scripture and other verses about thanksgiving. I revisited Ephesians 5:20 and read a commentary that stated, “Believers thankfulness is for who God is and for what He’s done through Christ.”
So I began . . . giving thanks. Thank you for the vegetables from my garden. Thank you for the way B loves whatever I cook. Thank you for the way a songwriter can sum up my feelings so perfectly.
As I continued my quest of giving thanks I realized there was another step I needed to take. My thankfulness as a believer in who God is and my daily thanksgiving of “things” around me needed to collide. It’s not just being thankful for things like vegetables from my garden or my favorite song but looking to God as the giver of these blessings, these gifts.
“And whether I am conscious of it or not, any created thing of which I am amazed, it is the glimpse of His face to which I bow down. Do I have eyes to see it’s Him and not the thing?” –Ann Voskamp
Let me be honest, I still struggle to thank God for even the hard things, the things that hurt. It’s a challenge for my mind to be thankful for these. Ephesians 5:20 says, “always and for everything giving thanks” even in hard times (emphasis mine). Philippians 4:6 says, “do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (emphasis mine).
John Piper sums it up well, “if you trust him, he will unfold for you how your omnipotent and all-wise Father in heaven can even take the evils of the world and work them together for your eternal good.” So I am learning to be thankful for good and bad, easy and hard, beauty and ugly, ups and downs. I am learning.
“Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creature here below.”