It is certainly easy to say thank you when we get what we want.
When all is going well in life, it’s not hard to thank everyone around us, to thank God. Thank you for this job, for this food, for this bonus, for our kids’ health, for our big, beautiful home. Of course, we can exude gratitude in these good times.
But gratitude in suffering, in despair, in defeat and in hardship naturally comes a lot less easily. Being thankful during the difficult days feels pointless. Because we don’t understand why and we feel angry, hurt, even betrayed – not at all grateful.
Last August, when Brenna was hospitalized for 8 days, we had several occurrences where she had to have a new IV put into her arm. This kind of effort is extremely hard, as her veins are difficult to locate and obviously, IV needles don’t feel super awesome anyway.
Holding my sweet girl on my lap, pinning her legs down while she screams out in pain as the nurse sticks her arm, once, twice, and again, is such a horrible feeling as a mother. In my head, I kept crying out to God to make it stop.
No, I don’t understand why she has to go through things like this. Every time, I wish they would stick me instead of her. Every time she gets a skin infection, I wish it was my skin that hurt and not hers. Every time she scratches all night, I wish it was me that couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep and not her.
But what I am grateful for? First and foremost, Brenna’s life. That she is a very loved and valued part of our family. And secondly, for modern medicine and medical advances in the way of treating Harlequin ichthyosis. I have talked to and seen photos of other children with her condition all over the world to struggle to care for this condition with their limited resources, and we are extremely grateful for the medical community we have access to.
God never promised a fair and easy life, to any of us. What he did promise is everlasting love. He promised to redeem us, and to give us life with Jesus in heaven. And that alone is worthy of unending praise.
Gratitude comes easily in the moments of joy and of laughter. But in hardships, gratitude is often a very intentional choice that we must consistently seek out, again and again.
Even when we aren’t feeling thankful, we can still praise. Even when we don’t understand or agree, we can still praise.
Faith doesn’t necessarily come from answered prayer or miracles or met expectations. Rather, I have been finding is that faith comes from trust in God’s will and God’s greatness, and sometimes we must fight, every day, to maintain that trust, as the world pushes against it.
What true gratitude offers us is the opportunity to view obstacles, hardships and disappointments in a new way, unfolding and opening the raw and sometimes complex beauty of a situation that we might not have ever been able to see before, through the lens of Jesus’ love for us.
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