Hard Situations Through Which God Taught Us Thankfulness
As part of our Thankful Thursday series, today’s post will be a panel post where we share our personal answers to the following question:
What circumstance has God allowed into your life that you have had a hard time being thankful for?
This question is a hard one to answer for me. Mainly because God hasn’t asked me to walk through any (what I would consider) major life crisis yet. No chronic illness, no miscarriage, no job loss, no wayward child, etc….yet. So when I look at my life and see the areas where I struggle with thankfulness it all seems rather petty to me. And yet, I think whether we are currently walking through a valley or pasture, God’s call to each of us remains the same. Be thankful.
For me, I find it the hardest to give thanks when my own personal comfort is being jeopardized. So, this plays itself out in my marriage: I want a husband who will pursue and serve me even when he’s tired. It plays itself out with my kids: I want them to behave well and never inconvenience me, especially in public. It plays itself out in my home: I want a home that always stays clean and never feels dirty or cluttered, etc.
In the moment these things seem like good and honest desires to me. Husbands should pursue their wives, right? Children should obey their parents, right? Our homes should be up kept, right? And yet, often I find myself prioritizing these things above God. I get upset when these “rights” of mine aren’t working out. And suddenly my ugly heart is exposed with what I truly idolize: myself.
It is at these moments that I need to remind myself that God is the source of my satisfaction. Ultimately, I should never be looking to myself, my family or my home as my reasons for a grateful heart. (Not that I can’t be thankful for those things, but at a base level those are not good wells to be drawing my joy from.) Ultimately, my family and home can be taken away, but God has promised me all the satisfaction and joy I need in Him.
Psalm 16: 8-11 – “I have set the Lord always before me: because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasure for evermore.”
My hope is in Christ, not in man/circumstances. Christ is my Redeemer. And when God is the source of my happiness I will always have a reason to rejoice.
Almost four years ago, God allowed me to miscarry twins, our first pregnancy. At first, I was simply dealing with all the emotions of the grief. However, after a while, it did become an issue of “Can I thank God for this?” Needless to say, it was an intense struggle to honestly thank God for our miscarriage. Deep down in my heart, I knew that I was supposed to be thankful for it. But my flesh fought against yielding so easily to the correct answer. To come to the point of being able to thank Him for our miscarriage, I believe there was one perspective that was primarily instrumental: I had to establish a deep-rooted conviction of God’s sovereignty and goodness in everything, even in our miscarriage.
God used His Word and several books (primarily Knowing God, by Jerry Bridges and Inheritance of Tears, by Jessalyn Hutto) to help my heart grow in my conviction of His sovereignty and goodness in all things. With time, this conviction has become the foundation for understanding and giving thanks for our miscarriage. I don’t understand the full reason for why He allowed it. I don’t understand all of the things that He has accomplished and continues to accomplish through our miscarriage. But I do understand that God’s Word teaches us that He is good and sovereign in all His ways, and as such, I can trust Him, even when there were times when it felt like I was being suffocated of the very air I breathed because of the pain of the loss.
It is because of His faithfulness to show His goodness and sovereignty that I can now thank Him in this pain as He works to accomplish His good work in me. Because of our miscarriage, God has blessed me with some of the sweetest times of fellowship with Him as He revealed Himself through the pages of His Word. However, even now, almost four years since our miscarriage, there are still times when I wonder if the pain will ever go away. It is during these moments then, that I again have to remind myself of the bedrock truth that God continues to be good and sovereign, and continues to use even the pain for His good will.
When I was just a tiny little girl I remember wanting to grow up and be a mommy to a lot of children. As I got older I envisioned being a strong woman who delivered all my children naturally without the aid of any medication or pain-reliever.As our first baby’s due date drew closer and Braxton hicks come in strong waves I prepared myself mentally for delivery. On the day that marked 40 weeks everything changed. Our doctor told me that I had a problem with my cervix which was causing it to not dilate. The longer the pregnancy continued the higher the risk of an emergency cesarean became. There were two options: one, schedule induction or wait it out and risk an emergency c-section. He suggested we go home and make our decision, if we chose to wait the baby would need to be monitored every couple days.
Before our next appointment arrived I began to labor hard and a few hours later my water broke with contractions coming every two minutes. We arrived at the hospital anticipating that our baby would arrive very soon only to find that I was not dilated at all. I labored for 29 hours and still had not reached 5 centimeters. At this point I was given an epidural and a high dose of pitocin. Six hours later our little girl made her appearance! A perfect healthy little blonde baby was placed in our arms. I was so happy and so thankful for our girl and that we had been spared a c-section.
Fast forward 21 months and we were preparing for the birth of our second little one. I was positive that things would be different this time, so sure that I could “do it” without help or medication this time! But as that 40 week mark come then went and I showed no signs of dilating, though I was experiencing strong labor pains, I grew more and more upset and bawled my eyes out in the OB office at 40 weeks 6 days. The midwife told me to go home for some lunch then come back for a stress test and ultrasound.
Baby passed the stress test with flying color but as I lay there while the nurse moved the ultrasound doppler around on my stomach I could tell from her face something was not quite right. She explained that the amniotic fluid was almost totally gone which could cause complications and even a still birth if this baby did not come very soon. She fetched a doctor who looked me in the eyes and told us that we were not leaving this room. She said she never liked to induce unless it was absolutely necessary and this was one of those times. I lay there thinking “This is NOT how I wanted things to go, this is not how I want to tell my story. But I can do it this time without an epidural, I’m sure I can be strong enough!”
As my body reacted to the medication it was riddled with the most excruciating pain beyond what I ever imagined. I truly though I was going to die. Hours passed. By the time I looked at my husband and gave into an epidural I could not stand, sit or lay down and my body would not stop shaking. As the nerve block did its job I slept and woke up ready to deliver. 13 hours of labor and another beautiful, perfectly healthy little girl was placed in our arms! Thank you God! My dreams of “normal” labors and deliveries have crumbed before me twice but each time I am strongly reminded how much I have to be thankful for- thankful that my body can carry our babies, thankful for doctors and modern technology which I’m sure God used to save my life and our babies lives, thankful to have been spared c-sections, thankful that each time God has given Jeremiah and I strong, healthy little girls! It has been hard but I can only praise God!
It is amazing and encouraging to see how God uses many different circumstances and situations to teach us and mold us into the image of His Son! He is good and faithful!