As I continued reading and gaining more insight into the topics of thankfulness and joy, the next few chapters of One Thousand Gifts were hard. Not so much hard to understand as hard to accept. As I said before, I understood being thankful despite negative circumstances – there’s always something good despite the bad that I can be thankful for. But suddenly we moved from the topic of being thankful despite the hard things to being thankful for the hard things. This was a whole different ball game to me.
As Ann proposed that even the hard things we go through are gifts from God, I immediately began thinking of lupus. Lupus – a gift? Something I should be thankful for? No – lupus is something I have to deal with, and I will do my best to be positive despite the frustrations that come along with it. But be thankful for it? That is crazy talk.
Thinking back over sermons I’ve heard on thankfulness, I remember preachers even saying that of course we’ll never thank God for suffering. We’ll thank Him for strengthening us through our trials. We’ll even look back and thank Him for some of the good things that came out of times of suffering. But one would have to be crazy to actually be grateful for the suffering.
And then I read Ephesians 5:20 that says, “Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father…”
Gulp.What do you do when someone plainly spells out the truth to you, and yet it goes against what you feel or what makes sense to you? Fighting it is the natural response. And I fought this. As I struggled, I decided to focus on the things I already knew to be true.
Here is what I know:God is sovereign. In control of everything.Isaiah 14:24 says, “The Lord of hosts has sworn: ‘As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand.” (ESV)Lamentations 3:37 says, “Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?“The fact that I have lupus is not some chance roll-of-the-dice event. It is in God’s plan for me. It is not a mistake.All I have comes from God.James 1:17 tells us that “every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” (ESV)Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.” (NIV)1 Chron 29:14 “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” (NIV)Psalm 50:10-11 “For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the hills, and all that move in the field is mine.” (ESV)God is good and desires good things for me.Psalm 84:11 says “…no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.” (KJV)Matthew 7:11 “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (ESV)Because the above statements are found in God’s word, I can be confident that they are truth. So what happens when I put them all together?If I know that God is sovereign and that all I have comes from Him, and if I know that God is good and desires good things for me,doesn’t this mean that everything that happens to me is a gift from Him? Ann writes, “A good God plans everything. Everything. So a good God can only…make plans for good? He only gives good gifts?”
So, here is this truth laid out in front of me. Yet, I don’t get it, and I don’t like it. How can I possibly look at lupus and see something good?Thou hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, – a grateful heart; Not thankful when it pleaseth me, As if Thy blessings had spare days, But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise. – George Herbert