“Rejoice in the Lord always.”
A little insensitive, don’t you think…if only you knew what I’m going through…if you could feel this pain and see through my eyes, surely you would have something more comforting to say…
“I will say it again: Rejoice!” – Philippians 4:4
A command to rejoice can feel like Mom shouting “look happy!” as the photographer struggles to capture one frame with everyone feigning glee simultaneously. But as a child’s forced smile is distant from the true pleasure of motherhood, our pretend happiness falls short of bringing our Father true joy. The grin-and-bear-it flavor of happiness is bitter to Him.
Like chocolate-dipped pretzels, salty tears covered by the sweetness of the Word is a decadent delight far richer than either element individually. Joy is deepened by suffering, and suffering is capitalized by joy.
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
– Colossians 3:15-17
So, this gratitude list is much more than temporary comforts or a silver lining. In potentially aggravating (but with purpose) descending order, I am grateful for:
7. Doctors and Nurses
I must admit, I have taken my health for granted. I am certain that I am not the only member of my demographic guilty of this. I work in an office where everyone is healthy. My home is illness-free for at least 51 weeks of the year. While I have battled a few bouts with cold and flu, I had never been admitted to the hospital before Saturday.
I woke up with a stiff neck joining my other symptoms, and we made the decision to go to the ER to rule out some scary conditions and nail down a diagnosis, rather than waiting more weeks to see specialists.
When my parents first wheeled me through the giant revolving door, I was immersed in a whole different world. A world where the sick outnumber the healthy. Where decisions really are life and death. And where love is dressed in scrubs and fights to shine.
So to the technician who made jokes while drawing my blood, the nurse who held my hand (while I strangled the life out of hers) during my spinal tap, knowing that if she let me move there would be serious consequences, and the doctors who took the time to make sure their words permeated the thick fog on my brain, thank you.
And not just them, but all medical professionals, particularly those closest to me. I see you over there being superheroes of compassion when every force is working to harden your heart. I see you making difficult choices and bearing their consequences. I see you taking care of strangers all day with no recognition, then taking care of your family all night with even less acclaim. And yes I have been the one taking all the granteds.
(All my labs were normal so far and they let me go home Saturday night).
6. This recliner
There is no where else in the world I would rather be right now. Not even Hawaii. This stillness is right where the Lord needs me.
Right around the time I got sick, through a series of events, Jimmy’s parents found themselves with a recliner they didn’t need. They asked if we wanted it. We immediately declined, but after some thought, we decided it would be good to rest in.
They next day they dropped it off in our garage. The following day Jimmy’s dad stopped by and helped him carry it upstairs. And all the days after that, this recliner has been where I spend my waking hours. It is topped off with a heated blanket to ease my back and neck pain. This is what I imagine heaven “feels” like.
Jimmy switches it back and forth between the north and south window every few days, bringing my end table with all my books, drinks, and supplies along with it.
The transformation occurring outside my window reminds me that nothing is irredeemable. The same God who teaches the birds to change their feathers and the squirrels to hide their nuts and the leaves to repaint the forest is able to completely heal my body.
5. FFF (Food from Friends and Family)
I am the person that wakes up in the morning thinking about dinner. I love to cook. I love to eat. If someone in my life is hurting, my first antidote is food. But with energy supplies dwindling and mobility limited, it has been next to impossible to cook for us over these past few weeks.
Add in a doctor-ordered wheat-free and dairy-free diet, dinnertime has been a struggle. Now on day 2 of a month of nauseating antibiotics, I am so grateful for the pots in my fridge of chili and soup and fruit and vegetables. God is providing our daily bread (haha) through the hands of our friends and family, and I am so grateful to all who have helped.
I am not used to being on the receiving end, and honestly I prefer to be the food-bearer. But in the kingdom circle, we must all be the needy and the needed in different seasons. I am grateful for my neediness, and grateful for those who have stepped up and crashed in to break down our needless notions. You are cherished and needed.
Many gifts have been retracted in this season: health, comfort, rational thinking, income, stability, security…but yet the words remain. When my brain is ripped to shreds in an attempt to add double-digit numbers or have a conversation, somehow the written words continue to flow.
Words come as if streaming from heaven through my pen and fingers, wrapping me up in their currents and guiding me downstream in this journey. The words are smooth and sweet, not laborious but life-giving. Externally, they are powerful for information, but internally they are the very vehicle of Divine comfort.
It seems intentional that my words have carried my identity when every other facet is sanded away.
Gratitude is not a simple thing to me; it is difficult to express and even tougher to condense. I needed each of these 1000 words to properly convey my thankfulness, and will surely need hundreds more to express my top 3. I will save the top objects of my gratitude for another post later in the week.
We are ever-grateful for your prayers. Shine on.