Damsels in Distress
Biblical Solutions for Problems with the World
Be Thankful? You Can’t Be Serious! Part 3
Trials by Brittany Cady
Have you ever had someone tell you that you are a positive person? The real truth about me is something totally different. I am a doubter; I am often an anxious mess, and I am tempted to judge others or compare myself to them so that I feel better about myself. Sounds pretty negative, right? Praise God that He’s saved me from my sins, and so I am called to put off the old and put on the new. Through many trials, God has taught me not to look around me for comfort, but to Him. By His grace, He has changed some of my sinful patterns and taught me how to search for His mercies in the midst of trials, and praise Him for them. Many New Age spiritualists talk about an attitude of gratitude and to some extent the pretense is true: if you give thanks for the positives in the situation, the negative parts about it can seem less important. The problem with that theory is that there is no foundation for gratitude. However, the Christian has that foundation; “God demonstrates His own love to us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
That is just the beginning too. If I only glance at the chapter of Ephesians in my Bible, I am reminded of all the truths that were faithfully explained to us by Pastor Matt in the past year. In chapter one alone we see that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3); “He predestined us to adoption as sons” (Eph 1:5); “we have redemption through His blood for the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph 1:7); we “were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:14); and that’s just to name a few. We have riches in Christ! If we will open His word and read about the things He’s lavished on us, we would not lack a long list to prayerfully thank our kind and gracious Father for.
If you’re feeling particularly pitiful and letting your mind take you to the what-ifs and the whys (which are both places you do not belong going!!!) might I suggest that you take some time searching the scriptures for things to be thankful for? Would you discipline yourself to keep a running list so that when you are not feeling like giving thanks you would have a record to spend time praising God for? This will help you start to change the attitude of your heart. During the times of my life that have been particularly tumultuous, I have learned to determine early in the morning of each new day to be watching for the things that God would have me give Him thanks for. When I started my day with my eyes wide open, looking for His mercies, I found them everywhere. When I started my days looking at my trial and worrying, it was no surprise that I found little to give thanks for.
In the last year, I’ve had many chances to put the lessons I’ve learned earlier in my life to the test. Last winter we found out we were expecting again, and after 2 ultrasounds seeing our baby wiggle around and look perfectly healthy, I miscarried the baby at 14 weeks. I spent a lot of time fighting off the whys and the what ifs. We have a friend who was also pregnant at the same time. I watched her pregnancy progress, and while I rejoiced with her at the birth of her baby, it was a hard thing too. Seeing pictures of him, and hearing stories about him constantly brought me to those ugly what ifs.
This trial didn’t have a clean end like the leukemia or the craniosynostosis. I am still learning to persevere in the fight for joy and thankfulness. I miscarried another baby last September, and another this April. I will not pretend that I didn’t ever ask why. I did. But it was a waste of breath. I didn’t receive any answers and I didn’t deserve any. I will not pretend that I still don’t find myself wondering what my babies would have been like and what my family would have looked like if they’d have lived. I am a human and my perspective is so far from heavenly.
In the end, your thoughts do not have control over you. God does! You have a choice: you can submit to His tender hand and take your thoughts captive. The peace that passes understanding comes when we choose to ask for His grace and then obey, submit, and remember His promises and kindnesses towards you. For me, that means preaching to myself, out loud if necessary: “You are saved from the sins that enslaved you and had you headed straight for Hell. You are adopted by the King of the Universe, you are His daughter!! You have a husband who is alive, who was as good as dead 7 years ago. You have three beautiful children, none of whom you deserve, two of whom no one expected to ever come. You live in America, and do not know what it’s like to be hungry or thirsty, or to want in any way. If you didn’t live in America, your husband would be dead and you would at best have one child. You are forgiven for all your doubt, all your worry, and all your self-pity. You are richly, deeply, and unconditionally loved by God.” We have so very much to be thankful for!”