#Blessed

give thanks in every season

Well it’s already time to say goodbye to November!! I can’t believe how fast time goes by. This month I have been working extra hard on my attitude. Positivity, hope and gratitude are extremely powerful spiritual tools – why do you think Satan tries so hard to take them away from us?! Truth be told, I have had a lot of ups and downs the last few months, some moments of great strength, peace and clarity and a lot of moments of depression, anxiety and panic. No matter how bad things get or how weak and limited I am physically, I still have an immeasurable amount for which to be grateful!

I’m not perfect, and so I can’t expect myself to be perfect; however, I can always open my heart to God, continue to grow and become so much more than who I was before. Good things surround me just as good things are ahead of me so I refuse to let Satan steal my joy! This month is known as THE month to practice gratitude, but I want to challenge you as I’m challenging myself to make a habit of having a triumphant and thankful spirit year round. Let’s not only be thankful this month and the next, but daily and in a much more profound way than going down the list of blessings. Let’s look for ways to see and be grateful for God in places we haven’t been before. Let’s strive to see him working in the dark, the bleak and the seemingly empty. Let’s choose peace and gratitude in our most vulnerable moments instead of worry and fear.

Something that I’ve learned through my chronic disease story is that my idea of blessings as an American Christian aren’t always the way God wants us to see blessings. It’s so easy for us to get caught up thinking that when life is comfortable and our path feels easy and smooth that that means we are blessed; so then when we meet challenges and struggles, heartbreak, loss, poverty, cruelty and hard times we immediately think – wait, WHERE is God?! What happened to the blessings and promises?! I know I’ve had some tough moments when I had to look those thoughts in the eye and label them as lies because those beliefs that used to give me security instead made me feel like my life was turned completely upside down. I realized that if I continued looking at God and understanding the concept of blessings the same way I had been, then it would mean that I also believed that God was choosing to let some of his believers suffer more than others, that he favored some believers more than others with no reason as to why. I realized that if I allowed myself to continue with a faith like that then I would become far more like the Pharisees than I ever would be like Jesus.

The Pharisees were always looking for an explanation and a reason for why a person suffered, just like sometimes we do, and so also did Jesus’ disciples in the following passage:

John 9:1-11 “1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”(this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. 8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some claimed that he was. Others said, “No, he only looks like him.” But he himself insisted, “I am the man.” 10“How then were your eyes opened?” they asked. 11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

Jesus’ followers asked him, what did this man or his parents to do to cause him to suffer like this? Thus, also implying “we” must have done something right because we don’t suffer as he does. Just like the Pharisees there were times when even Jesus’ own disciples were looking for a reason to feel more important, more prideful, more justified in a legalistic faith which is actually nothing like Jesus! I want to live as far away from that spiritual logic as I can! I want to look at my hardships and my suffering and be able to thank God for getting me through them, trust Him with His plans for my life, and hope in the power of Jesus’ name to make beauty out of the bleak.

While I thought I believed that God loves his comfortable wealthy American Christians just as much as he loves his poor, suffering, struggling Christians in my country, or those in other areas of the world like Honduras or Nicaragua, Ghana or Cambodia, I later realized that I really didn’t have a clue what I believed. I thought – yes, of course, God loves us the same, but when confronted with my beliefs I felt he decided to bless us over here MORE; I didn’t know why, and most of the time I don’t think that I even knew or understood that deep down I actually believed that I was somehow more important than someone who suffered more than I did. Now, I KNOW God blessed the poor and the downtrodden the same if not more so than he blessed the wealthy, healthy and comfortable. Should we be thankful for our Earthly possessions, our health, family and comforts – YES, we should absolutely be thankful, BUT I also no longer look at blessings in the same way or with the same limitations that I did before.

what if your blessings

My promise as a follower of Christ was not for an easy, pain-free life. My blessing was not to be kept from suffering. In fact, I now believe if I’m too comfortable, I’m probably not pushing myself to grow and to work for God’s kingdom as much as he really wants. I discovered that my blessings were so much bigger, and worth so much more than simply a roof over my head, clothes on my back and food on the table – my blessing and my promise is JESUS. I think to truly understand who Jesus is we are expected to suffer. We are promised a hard road. No, I don’t have a Savior who magically erases my pain and illness, though he certainly could. Instead, I have a Savior who understands my suffering and pain. I have a Savior who suffers with me, beside me every step of the way. I have a Savior who could have called ten thousand angels, but instead died in complete agony on a cross, let Satan think he was winning, and then came back to show me that God’s love conquers death and sin and suffering at its most powerful and horrible. My blessings are contentment in pain and hardship through learning to rely on the Lord. My blessings are peace that surpasses understanding and a spirit of praise when others might collapse in despair (and sometimes I do collapse, and Jesus understands that, too).

I have a close relationship with a God who understands what it feels like to lose a child, to give a perfect child to die in order to save those like me who fail him daily. My blessing is that I have been promised that I can overcome any darkness in my life because I have victory in Jesus. My blessing is that I know that there is nothing men or Satan can do to me here on Earth to take away or cast even the smallest shadow on my joy in Heaven. I know that when I make it there, there will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more suffering. There will be no more chronic pain, no more Lyme Disease, no more cancer, no more AIDS. I know that Heaven’s glory will so greatly eclipse anything difficult I experience on Earth!

My blessing is freedom, not just freedom from darkness or pain, but the ability to live and love freely and without fear because my promises and blessings are so much bigger than life and especially far more powerful than my mistakes, sin or even death itself. I have a Savior who gives me the tools to live in such a way that he can take my most painful days and teach me how to learn from them, grow through them, and come out stronger and more full of joy and strength I can share with others. It’s amazing!! And I hope you can agree that it’s far more meaningful and valuable to be blessed with eternal life and a Savior who understands the pain we go through and who meets us where we are, than to live every day on Earth in comfort, safety and security, which without Jesus is absolutely meaningless!

When we’re at our lowest, Jesus does the most for us, and we receive our most cherished and valuable blessings. From now on, I want to be just as thankful for the tough times, the struggles and challenges and storms as I am for the moments of smooth sailing. I absolutely encourage you to do the same. Step out of your “blessings” that provide meaningless comfort, and instead look for Jesus in the dark, among the broken and suffering because that’s where he’s needed and where he shines the brightest, and y’all, that same truth holds for us. If you really want to be the hands and feet of Jesus, seek out the lost and hopeless and love them like Jesus does, not because he’s the Son of God who is all powerful and perfect, but because he’s the Son of God who walked humbly and suffers with us, the Savior who provides us with the tools to transform sorrow into joy and weakness into strength.

always be joyful

I want to take a moment and say THANK YOU to all of you for going through this journey with me. Thank you for reading my blog posts, for praying for me and for encouraging me when I need it the most. There are no words to express how much it means to me! I want to ask you to continue praying for me, but also to pray for my sweet friend and fellow Lyme fighter Victoria Wilguess as she goes into a major 10+ hour long heart surgery in the morning.

Y’all are awesome! Please know that I pray for each and every one of you! Keep getting out there, finding those who are sick and hurting like myself and loving us like Jesus. Truly, there are no words to describe the ways God comforts me through all of you!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

If you haven’t heard Laura Story’s song “Blessings” yet, I encourage you to check it out! I’ve posted the lyrics below because I think they’re really powerful and inspirational!

“Blessings” by Laura Story

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise.

 

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4 thoughts on “#Blessed

  1. You are such a strong girl. Keep fighting sis! Thank you for reminding us of our blessings and how we really should look at things more as God wants us to see things and be grateful them. Love you and continuing to pray for you!

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Still A Southern Gal and commented:
    Meet Victoria. When I read her story this morning rit reminded me so much of my friend, Melody (Punkin), her feisty courage, and her unshakeable faith. She understood my battle, even as she faced her own. Illness can destroy our flesh, but it cannot- it WILL NOT destroy our spirit!
    I’m in prayer for this young woman, with late stage neurological Lyme disease, as she undergoes surgery today. Lyme may be in charge of her physical wellness…but Christ holds her Life. ~ Southern Gal

    Like

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