At the end of 2011 I longed to name the year 2012, Eucharisteo - a year of deliberately giving thanks to the Lord. Little did I know, God wants to unveil to me one of His character traits I didn’t quite understand and He sparked in me the desire to give thanks, not just a mere ‘new year’s resolution’.
It is Satan’s ultimate goal to make me believe God is not good. Since the time of Eve in the Garden it was his gaol to deceive us humans. From as early as my childhood he would make me doubt God’s love, through the lie of focusing on feelings of rejection, disappointment, failure, periods of fear and anxiety. In the process these feelings weakened my trust in my Loving Father, to work all things for my good.
I recently started reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. I was not at all expecting God to address my lack of trust. God at first only introduced to me the habit of giving thanks. After reading the first chapter or two, I didn’t read for a few weeks, and just tried to establish the habit of giving thanks on an ongoing basis. Making giving thanks a habit is not just ‘slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life. That leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life’ (Ann Voskamp). A habit of thanksgiving includes to name the things I’m thankful for. I really struggled to make it a habit. I first had to recognize my habit of complaining, discontentment, feeling empty, asking for more. After identifying this bad habit, I deeply desired to change. But, I couldn’t merely decide to stop the bad habit and start the new thanksgiving habit. I had to drive out the bad habit, and in the same time fill the empty space with the new habit. This was a challenge, but I believed, I could. It is fairly easy to give thanks when life is running relatively smooth. A few up and downs here and there, some things not quite as you planned, but still there are so much to be thankful for.
While I was working on my habit of giving thanks , I made progress in reading more in One Thousand Gifts. To my surprise I discovered giving thanks in everything, feeds trust. Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on… (Ann Voskamp). What an interesting, new idea! The more I read and succeed in the new habit of giving thanks, the more it fed my trust in God.
I was even more convinced by reading Phil 4:6, with ‘new eyes’. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Giving thanks, trusting God and make your requests known to God all in the same sentences.
But what about giving thanks in a world of certain loss? Those times when it feels like life itself is giving away underneath us. Times when dreams are crushed down, when we have no control. When pain, disappointment, uncertainty and fear is everywhere. Trusting God’s goodness, having faith, thanking God during these times is a tough call! In my perception a person would need a very special gift to even consider giving thanks. But every time when Jesus performed a miracle He first gave thanks. Most of all He gave thanks hours before He gave His life as a ransom for us, performing the miracle of winning back eternal life for sinful human beings. And I’m back where I was when I named the year 2012 Eucharisteo - longing for more miracles in my life, giving thanks in everything, including the impossible - giving thanks in difficult situations.
Most of all I was thankful that I wasn’t in a particular challenging season in my life. Life was good.
But life can change in the blink of an eye...
Two weeks ago I experienced symptoms/signs that reminded me of my miscarriage in March last year. Life caved in on me - not again! Please Lord, not again, I cannot do this! By Wednesday noon I was laying, waiting for an ultrasound scan... and the monitor was silent... no heartbeat for my tiny, tiny baby. Baby was developed to about 8 weeks, although I was 11 weeks pregnant.
In the next 24 hours, fear was creeping in on me, it was all over me. Fear for living life! Fear for the unknown of the next few days. Fear for my own health. Fear of not being able to stay strong for my children. Fear for losing the joy of my family. Fear for my oldest daughter who was devastated by the news. Fear for how this news will influence my dear husband who was already carrying a heavy load. Fear for what this year of 2012 has still in store for me.
Doubt of God’s goodness was a natural reaction. But due to the habit that was now almost established in my daily life, I was desperately looking for thank you’s, thank you’s that would precede the miracle. And the miracle did follow! I experienced my God as I never have before. God was everywhere. Never before did I see His fingerprints over my daily life as during that week. I couldn’t help but give thanks for how He was guiding me through heart breaking pain.
I was giving thanks in the heart breaking situation. Writing them down, one painful memory after the other - giving thanks. These Thank You’s are so personal, but I have to write them here, declaring victory over the Enemy of my soul, reminding me: God is good, all the time.
#37 Thankful for running into our trusted doctor friend on Monday night, as Christo and I walked to the car after our date night. On Wednesday he would write my ‘referring letter for the ultrasound
#38 Thankful for a dear friend who delivered a message from God, of love, grace and encouragement the morning my dream was crashed down, without her knowing what was happening in my live
#39 Thankful for the network of Godly women who is currently intimately walking with me the Hello Mornings challenge. So much love, encouragement, prayer for us as a family.
#40 Thankful for the friendly personnel at the Radiologist’s, who fit me into their very busy schedule, even before my Dr’s letter came through the fax machine
#41 Thankful for a sonar picture of my baby
#42 Thankful for my understanding, caring, loving husband who stays strong for me, while he carries his own share of problems, worries and his own dreams for this baby crashed down, constantly pointing me back to my faith in the Lord
#43 Thankful for my strong oldest son with the gentle spirit who took me to the ultrasound, held my hand all the way and showered me with love and care in a very dark hour
#44 Thankful for what ever the Lord is teaching my dearest oldest daughter in the safety of her parents home, through her deepest pain and disappointment in losing another sibling
#45 Thankful for people smiling on me in the supermarket a few days later, while shopping with my five little ones, calling me blessed, delivering me a personal love letter from God, reminding me I am blessed
#46 Thankful for the song God put in my heart minutes before we left for the sonar:
“Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the one who lives within you
Will be strong in you today”
#47 Thankful for the same song the next morning, while I was crying my heart out before the Lord:
Why don' you give him all of your fears
Why don't you let him wipe all of your tears
He knows, He's been through pain before
And He knows all that you've been looking for
#48 Thankful for the most beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered by a dear, dear friend, reminding me of the beauty all around me
#49 Thankful for the most beautiful pictures I’ve taken of my tummy
#50 Thankful for the pictures dear Heidi-Mary took of the little ones gathered around my growing tummy, already loving and caring for their little baby brother or sister
#51 Thankful for all my children who are around me, every day of my life, but especially during these days, to comfort me, love me, remind me of the purpose of my life.
#52 Thankful for this season of bearing and raising children
#53 Thankful for the privilege to be part of giving life to another Eternal Human Being who is right now praising and glorifying our Lord in Heaven, alongside his/her 4 siblings
#54 Thankful for the hope of having eternity with these 5 precious children
#55 Thankful for God’s timing of my miscarriage, early morning, while Christo was still at home, to help me
#56 Thankful that I didn’t need to go into hospital.
And as I was giving thanks, I could breathe again, fear was pushing away from me, further and further away. Replaced by faith and trust in my loving Father. Peace and true thankfulness was all over me. I could get out of bed, not afraid of what the day will hold. I am not alone - God is all around me, knowing my pain even before I know, going before me, carrying me, holding me, caring for me, loving me with His deepest love.
Often we will only be able to see through our pain when we look back, in the rearview mirror, after driving long, long distances. Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven - and therefore I can only keep giving thanks, stop questioning my Father’s love. And in giving thanks, I feed trust. Trust that God’s love, God grace will never ends.
He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
So we may boldly say:
"The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
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