My last post ended with some hard truth laid out in front of me – truth that I didn’t get and I didn’t like.
As I continued reading One Thousand Gifts, Ann writes that she realized the problem lies in our perspective. Our perspective on life’s events is quite different from God’s perspective. Our definition of ‘good’ is often different from God’s definition of ‘good.’ The only way to change this perspective is by looking at our circumstances through the filter of His Word. When I lose my focus on Christ and on the truths of the Bible, the doubts about God’s goodness begin to creep in.
I look at lupus and think “This is not a good thing; therefore, this cannot be a gift from God” when I really should be saying “My good God gave this to me, therefore it is good for me.”Job 2:10 says “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” I simply cannot say I believe in the sovereignty of God and not believe that these are gifts from him.Romans 8:32 says “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” If God didn’t withhold from us his very own Son, why do I think that he will withhold anything that I need? This realization should make me broken before God, as I deserve nothing good.Ann writes “When I realize that it is not God who is in my debt but I who am in His great debt, then doesn’t all become gift?”Mark Driscoll recently tweeted, “We deserve @#!*% . Everything else is a gift. That’s a lot of gifts.”As God revealed more of these truths to me, I began to realize why the simple act of thanking God for that barking dog quickly changed my frustration to joy. I’m learning that being grateful for something doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m happy about it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s what I desired or what I would’ve chosen for myself. But it does mean that I’ve chosen to trust and submit to the One who’s in control of my life – trust that He knows what’s best for me.Jerry Bridges said, “Thanksgiving is an admission of dependence.” I’ve learned that my “suck it up and deal with it” attitude toward my illness is actually a subtle form of self-reliance. I will take this hard thing and I will buckle down and push through it. I will try my hardest to remain positive, even if it means plastering the most fake smile on my face you’ve ever seen. I want to give God the praise for the great things that happened to me, yet I try to come up with ways to handle the hard things on my own. This is self-reliance. This is pride. And I badly needed to be broken in these areas.I must be willing, not just to “deal with” the hard things that come my way in life, but to submit to the One who’s in control of them and to be thankful for their presence in my life. Yes, this means that I can be thankful that God has given me lupus.But I cannot be grateful – I cannot count the hard things as gifts – if I’m not trusting God completely. And not just with the big things. The small things too. If everything I receive is from God, then I can find joy in the little things. I can find joy in socks, apple pies, and electric can openers.As I practice gratitude, it is possible to experience great joy in the midst of hard things. Those mornings when I wake up sore and stiff all over – and I have to give myself a little pep talk just to get out of bed? I can be thankful for that.Those evenings when my to-do list is a mile long, but my fatigue becomes so overwhelming that I’m resigned to sitting on the couch being completely unproductive? I can be thankful for that.Those times I have to turn down an invitation somewhere because I know doing that “fun” thing will use up the energy I need to do something more important the next day? I can be thankful for that.This video is one of my favorite songs right now and goes along well with what God’s been teaching me in this area. I’d really encourage you to listen to this entire beautiful song.
As I open my hand each day to whatever God has for me – as I open my hand each moment to whatever God has for me – I can have peace, and yes even joy, knowing that my good God will only give good gifts.
It’s our wild desire to protect our joy at all cost that smothers our joy. Like a flame needs oxygen, joy needs an open hand. – Ann Voskamp