This season is different from all the others and we are hauling burdens at the end of 2019 we have not previously carried. A couple days ago, I read this from one of my favorite authors, and it sure made me think and reassess:
“In all my prayers, whether I get the answers I want or not, I can count on this one fact: God can make use of whatever happens. Nothing is irredeemable.
‘Teach me, O God, so to use all the circumstances of my life today that they may bring forth in me the fruits of holiness rather than the fruits of sin,’ prayed the British author John Baillie:
Let me use disappointment as material for patience.
Let me use success as material for thankfulness.
Let me use trouble as material for perseverance.
Let me use danger as material for courage.
Let me use reproach as material for long suffering.
Let me use praise as material for humility.
Let me use pleasures as material for temperance.
Let me use pain as material for endurance.
“By selfish nature I tend to pray for successes, happy outcomes, and relief from difficulties. And I must say, with gratitude, I have experienced my share of the good things life offers. But in the Beatitudes Jesus calls ‘blessed’ those who experience the very opposite: poverty, mourning, hunger, persecution. How would my faith survive, and my prayers change, if life took a dramatic turn for the worse—if I came down with a degenerative disease, or lost my home, or landed in prison because of my beliefs? Could I fill in the blanks of John Baillie’s prayers with details of my own newly lapsed state? Would I humbly allow the Spirit to accomplish God’s purposes in me even through such unwelcome agents?” – Phillip Yancey
We had never traveled this road that we now find ourselves on: cancer progression compounded by life-altering job loss adding in a little way-over-the-hill foster parenting…
However. We have had other seasons that looked just as terrifying, with a different set of hurdles. Circumstances may change, but we have faced rock slides and potholes and road closures all throughout our life. It is life. Sometimes because of our own choices and actions, we caused the roadblocks; sometimes, we were just the traveling victims of happenstance.
However squared. How we choose to respond, how we use these circumstances to learn and grow to produce the fruits of holiness – that is what is most important. God will take care of us through it all. He will carry us when we are overwhelmed. Our responsibility is to humbly continue on and reflect Him on the road we travel.
I am grateful for insight that hits home.
I am grateful for reclining recliners on chemo day.
I am grateful for a treatment room that was right next to the bathroom for Sam.
I am grateful for a can of ginger ale.
I am grateful that even though it drives me crazy, my husband’s brain continues to spin with vision and ideas about what to do next to stay busy instead of giving in to the boredom and inner panic of no job.
I am grateful for a nurse’s deeply personal story of her own road less traveled and her wisdom that what may seem like a mountain to others, is just her life. It is her normal and she knows no other way than to climb.
I am grateful for heated blankets that are in abundance at the cancer center.
I am grateful for the simple blessing of foster son’s beautiful pictures of my piano he took and his willingness to text me when he needs something.
I am grateful for the melancholy feelings of sadness every Christmas without my mom, my youngest daughter, and her children, mixed with eager anticipation for a happy Christmas weekend with my Dad, my brother and family, my sister, and my oldest daughter and her beautiful family.
Christmases are different now – as we grow older, life and living brings tough emotions and baggage, quite often on bumpy roads.
But the one thing that will never change? Our recognition and celebration that Jesus lived among us and even now, offers us hope, comfort, companionship, and respite when our burdens are too heavy to carry alone and the road isn’t so smooth.
I am very grateful for that tonight.