I see through new lenses these days. No, I didn’t get new glasses.
I have a new way of life. One that still consists of the family I treasure and work that I love—ministering to people. But one which now includes numerous therapies, doctors’ appointments, calculated outings, and even trips to be measured for the “electric chair.” Sounds scary—but I am referring to a motorized wheelchair, complete with accompanying accessible van. Bars and ramps have already been installed in our home as we live out our “new normal.”
I must choose how I view this change in life. An assortment of viewpoints and attitudes hover around my head and are readily accessible. Which lens shall I choose?
My husband no longer has mobility, and suffers from a progressive neurological disease. Yes. It’s hard and sobering.
However (for a completely none other than God-given reason) we have peace. And we have so much we are thankful for. I find myself surprised to feel this reality so keenly and deeply—but I’ve never felt closer to God, my husband, or my family. And, I’m extremely thankful as I approach my country’s Thanksgiving holiday.
This really doesn’t make sense. I am quite aware this contentment is only because of many prayers being prayed—and a commitment and prayer from my husband to live each day…grateful, courageous, and cheerful.
How do you do that when you lose your physical capabilities and/or when life radically changes?
By choice. Choosing to be grateful this time of year. This day. This moment. Tomorrow.
And choosing to be courageous and cheerful.
The alternative choice is to become bitter, fearful, and depressed…and that, dear friends, is not an encouraging choice.
My husband chooses the former, and it spurs me on to choose the same. The Bible calls me to this. It’s a vital way to think—and it’s possible. This way of thinking doesn’t mean I hide my head in the sand to all that is hard in life while whistling “Pollyanna.” In fact, Jesus’ tells us we will have troubles in this world. Expect them. There are all kinds of troubles here in this “short minute” of life on earth. Yet, it’s the perfect and trouble free eternal years for which I live. Aaaahhhh.
If we are waiting for life on earth to be “fair” and to always make sense to us we are in for a long and impossible wait.
Despite our troubles, we can know we know and hold to someone who is all powerful and completely loving.
I can’t see what he sees. I also can’t deny the truth of the following scripture. God’s peace exceeds anything and everything I can understand.
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9 NLT)
Today, I feel grateful. The ability to stand, to walk, to climb, and to run feels very pertinent to me. To quickly “fetch” a drink of water when I’m thirsty is a privilege, and to take steps into a friend’s home is a blessing. I may not always have these abilities, but while I do I’m thankful for them. My once fast and agile husband can no longer do these things, but he is a grateful man. He knows and lives love; receives and offers forgiveness; experiences peace in heart and mind; has the love of an amazing family; holds to a purpose and hope that nothing can destroy; and joyfully functions within a diverse church family that loves deeply and from the heart.
His attitude is contagious to me. And it’s a good contagiousness—no need for covering the mouth with a tissue here. This attitude shows in the big stuff and in the mundane. For instance: While pumping gas, I now stop to be thankful for the fact I have a car, and money to power it. Each time I’m at the grocery store and slip that debit card chip into the proper slot I’m reminded of the amazing food I am able to buy, and I feel thankful. I realize this is a luxury for many. I’ve seen, met, and spoken to many who would long for such an opportunity. I am truly blessed. Before this recent struggle, I felt less gratitude for such “mundane” things.
And who could have courage if they didn’t face fears? Fearfulness has dogged me throughout my life, yet God has not let me down. Ever. This doesn’t mean I haven’t faced hard or even life threatening situations and felt fear. Yet, it was in those times of deepest fears God empowered me to feel the most courage.
Funny thing— this is what God’s promises have always told us. Just re-read Psalm 23. Maybe a more unfamiliar wording of this psalm will feed your soul:
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of GOD for the rest of my life. (Psalm 23:4-6 MSG)
Deep down in the heart joy supersedes circumstances.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your love, O LORD, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. (Psalm 94:18-19)
And that is something to smile about. Cheerfulness begets cheerfulness. It feels good, too.
22 A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Pr. 17:22)
Join us in a commitment to leave each day with gratitude, courage, and cheerfulness.
…And have a wonderful Thanksgiving day—and life!
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
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