Friday, November 8, 2013

Thankfulness and a Giant God Smack!

Today's guest post is a contribution to The Thankful Project written by new blogger, Heather Nelson. Heather is my sister-in-law and also a close friend of mine. She's a great writer - her personality shines through her words! Check out her bio below and go see what she has to offer on her blog!

When I was a child one of my favorite movies was “Polyanna.”   I seriously could write an entire dissertation about this film and why it is completely awesome, but instead I will just tell you to go and find it and watch it, you will thank me.  The main character, Polyanna, is an orphan who has been raised through many trials.  She constantly plays what she lovingly calls “the glad game.”  It is her goal to always find something to be glad about in every circumstance.  Man, what a lesson!  In thinking about thankfulness through adversity, this was the first place my mind went.  Can I truly find something to not just be glad about, but be thankful for in every circumstance?

So, here I am thinking of writing a piece on thankfulness through adversity.  In my mind I started scouring through at least a dozen different situations in my past where a specific adversity or “trial” had occurred and tried to think of how I could write and encourage thankfulness in all things.

In doing this, I began to unearth a pattern that I was not prepared for.  God's funny like that, right?  So instead of telling you what a great Christ follower I am when faced with trials, I am going to tell you, ugly blistering sores and all, the truth.  The truth is, I flipped out. Every. Single. Time.  Oh, I was thankful.  I was ALWAYS thankful when it seemed the trial was over, or when God pulled me out, or provided. Man was I thankful for Him then.  But in the middle of ugly, in the smack dab center of hurt, pain, and worry, I was not thankful... I was fearful.  Though I know that having fear in my heart for provisions is not having faith that God will provide ( Luke 12:24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!) I still have struggled through the years with surrendering to His care.
For the most part, the pattern essentially ended up looking like this (and I will use examples of actual trials I have faced).

Trial  -struggled with infertility - My response:  Flip out (depression, a lot of crying, hopelessness, jealousy of other pregnant women, anger at God,).... After God Delivered (opened my womb and allowed me to be pregnant) : I was so thankful.
Trial  -marriage separation- My response: Flip out  (depression, anger, hopelessness. I did eventually learn to completely lean on God and He did allow me one of the sweetest times of communion with Him at that point. )...... After God Delivered (my husband and I were reunited and began to work hard on our union) : I was so thankful.
Trial - Financial hardship - My response:  Flip out... After God delivered (provided): I was so thankful.
Trial -  Lost job, move to smaller place - My response: Flip out.  After God delivered: I was so thankful.
Trial - YADA YADA YADA you get the point.

Wow.  And this is where God did His thing to me that I am very familiar with.  I can describe it as a full fledged smack in the forehead, like an “I should've had a V-8” moment.  Can somebody say “CONVICTION”??  Yeah. Conviction.  Well that was SO NOT what I was planning on for this article.  Ok then, lets take a big fat look at what's going on right now shall we?  I'm in the middle of a financial hardship again.  Things are, well, really tight.  We have to fully rely on God for everything. For those of you who've been there, you know that this type of struggle can put a strain on many of other areas of your life, thus creating a bunch of little hairy mini trials.  THEN- just tonight (hahaha, go figure) I fell and injured my knee, as in, going to get an xray tomorrow type of injury- ugh.  So, my first reaction to this, were the following thoughts.... 1. are you serious? How can I be such a klutz?  2.  I'm so mad, I am 36 years old, not 80 for crying out loud.  3.  I'm trying to lose weight and being unable to work out is really going to make this harder.  4.  We do not have the money for this. 
Yeah, not a great example to list here IN THE MIDST of me working on this.  Then I sit down to start writing about thankfulness and my V-8 moment is back.  Back this time with a flashing light. I just totally wrecked that up God.  Please forgive me.

These are not life ending, cancer ridden problems I'm dealing with here people, I totally get that.  But, they are MY problems.  So I am forced to take a better look.  I don't want to be in this pattern anymore!  I want a new pattern, and you know what?   I think that's what God wants too.  In fact, I KNOW that's what He wants, and here's why:
1.  Colossians 3:14-17  14And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in      perfect harmony. 15And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  

2.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18  16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  

So, my new pattern should look like this:  Trial - My response: Thank God for his faithfulness, rejoice in His sovereignty and grace. Trust - If God delivers – Praise him.  If He doesn't – Praise Him. Because, I know He is in control of ALL things, and I KNOW that I can rest in His Sovereignty.

Wow, so easy right?  NOT!  I know I will have to revisit this every single time, because in my own will I will not ever rise up to this.  Here's the deal folks,  I need Jesus, and I need Him B-A-D.  So then, what do I do?  I pray.  I pray a lot.  I read His word, a lot.  I seek to glorify Him, because ultimately, all of my pleasure, my joy, my life, regardless of my circumstances, will come through Christ being magnified.

Heather is a wife of 16 years, a mom of 4, and a big fat sinner saved by grace. In her minimal spare time after running kids to baseball or cheerleading practice, going to games of all kinds, and attempting to keep her house clean...she writes a bit.  For fun she loves camping and karaoke and is working on a way to do both at the same time.  You can check out her ramblings at