Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Last Friday was my birthday. I was going to write this then, but it wasn’t ready. I had far more to ponder before it would come together. Ten months ago, I did not know if I would be here for this birthday. Of course, we really don’t know if we will be here on any particular day, but we assume for the most part that we will. Anyway, I am grateful for this gift because that is what my life is. I am grateful for this birthday.
The Saturday before, I spent about five hours in the ER. I was sent there because of a persistent bad cough and the doctor believed there was fluid buildup on my lung. When the ER doctor gave me an ultrasound, he couldn’t find enough fluid to cause that much problem. So, there were other tests including a CT scan that was administered by a friend. Another gift from God, I believe, that helped me see and know his love and hers. There was something (they don’t know what) that was mostly occluding the lung tumor, so they couldn’t see it well. They are assuming that it has grown and that it was causing the problem with my cough. I didn’t mention the fact that I had been praying for God to put some sort of bubble around the tumor to keep it contained. I’m chicken, I guess. I am now on some different drugs that has stopped the coughing. Thank God.
This was not terrific news for us and we are still praying for a miracle. God is sometimes a last-minute God. We have seen that before. However, I need to prepare because as the psalmist in Psalm 31 tells God, he knows that his times are in God’s hands and in Psalm 39 he tells God he knows that his days are numbered. Ours all are. My life is still in God’s hands. I’m scared, sometimes, but don’t tell anyone because I try to be and act more brave than I am, occasionally. Recently, I ran across a Snoopy cartoon where Charlie Brown says, “Someday we will all die, Snoopy.” And Snoopy, wisely, says, “True, but on all the other days, we will not.” So how do we not on other days?
I really try to stay in the moment. When I find myself afraid, I remember that right at this moment, I am alive and, mostly, don’t feel too bad. I would like a bit more energy. On these alive days, I am too live my life serving and loving God and others. So, I take a deep breath and go on.
I have another confession, and this really does go along with what I’ve already written, so hang on. I have been having trouble with my gratitude. I’m grateful for the same things – family, friends, home, food, etc., but why not, right??? However, though I know they are gifts, I often take them for granted. Something needs to change because I quit making a gratitude list. I had to do better than this.
I started reading a brand-new book by Diana Butler Bass (Grateful – The transformative power of giving thanks) She said that some of the things we put on our list, though gifts, are partly privilege. We work hard. We are able to get things. We sometimes forget that being able to do that is Gift. But, how are we grateful for things we consider bad or that really are bad? I do not believe that God gave me cancer. God does not will illness. But the world is broken and evil, also, exists. God wills healing but sometimes it doesn’t happen. What if my number is coming up sooner than later? How can I be grateful in all circumstances? Well, I changed my gratitude list to add some different things. I am still grateful for the above as well. Some of things I thank God for are: Our Trinity community – a piece of the Kingdom of God on earth; the gift of another day; for God holding me when I had a rocky day and couldn’t go to work as I had planned. I’m thankful that I had the energy to make an apple pie (mostly) and for my husband who finished it when I ran out of steam.
I thank God for a good physical therapy session for my sore back; that I was able to go to a Vestry meeting at church; my daughters successful medical procedure and for the most part, I feel OK. There are more that I put on my list but ‘space’ you know. It’s amazing what can be found to thank God for when things are the “bad times”. Listing them, helps me stay in the moment and remember Snoopy’s wise words. “But on the other days we will not.” We “Practice Gratitude” in all circumstances.
Do you remember my story of my prayer where Jesus was sitting away from me wearing a black belt which gave my cause to giggle? Just this week while I pray, the image has changed to one of him holding me and me holding him. What bad times?
A friend, a couple of days ago, posted a song on Facebook which was what I so needed for that day – I Am, by David Crowder. Here’s part of it. I had a little cry while it played.
There’s no space that His love can’t reach.
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing grace
Take me in with your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go, never leave my side.
(Chorus) I am…holding on to you. I am holding on to you
In the middle of the storm, I am holding on. I am.