Think of an extra-tough time you’ve gone through. Okay, maybe not the most joy-filled request.
Now, look at the definition of thankful:
1. Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful – grateful and appreciative
2. of, relating to, or expressing thanks – a thankful feeling – thankful words
Curious why I’m asking you to think of an extra-tough time, as well as defining what thankful means? It’s to help you understand what got me—as years went by—to be closer to actually being thankful for these two, somewhat life-changing hardships I’d gone through. (1*) (2*)
Thankfulness. Do I want you to think that from day one I was filled with thankfulness when my teenage pregnancy soap opera started? Or, do I want you to think I was overflowing with thanks shortly after my brain-damaging encephalitis hit, that had me unable to even understand who God was TO thank? Am I saying that that one question, ‘Why, God?’ was nowhere to be found during both of those times? Of course not. As a matter of fact, if it could have been visible, “Why, God?” would have been bubbled over my head more hours of the day than not. I bet all of you reading this have had that bubble at least once, and that it seemed, at the time, impossible to pop.
God, having saved me when I was eighteen years old, was who I gave so many thanks to, as most things went by pretty smoothly that first year before these two time periods began. This verse fit perfectly:
Ephesians 5:2 – Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
But bang, things changed. I was so young in my Christian walk when I was hit with the first of these two trials. There had only been one year of God’s word and guidance before that larger-than-life trial occurred, followed by the next one only a few years later.
Being thankful for trials, along with understanding what God’s providence even meant, were both still hard to fully understand. It was hard to even find a little drip-drip-drip of thankfulness for either. Yes, I did sense God’s Fatherly care in both, but thankfulness that He decided to have me need that care sure wasn’t standing out. The word ‘thankful’ was folded up as many times as possible, put in the back pocket of those jeans I never wore.
I knew God was holding me, but the fact that He had reasons for it all was hard to find as those early years went by.
Hearing those common words, ‘God has reasons,’ caused me to think ‘But what ARE they?’ That question was glued in my thoughts as every day, week, and month I was pregnant went by, and especially after every day, week, and month after my illness went by.
As time did go by, however, I—how shall I say it—started wearing those jeans I seldom wore, sensing something going on in that back pocket. Something was unfolding.
James 1:12 slowly began making sense.
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
To be continued.
1* First trial – Unplanned pregnancy