Ok, how many of you have used the phrase “I’m thankful”. I can hear y’all saying yes, shaking your head up and down, and I can see your hands raised. I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I’ve used that phrase in my lifetime. Thankful is a simple word but has such a vast meaning.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
But do we give thanks in ALL circumstances? I know speaking from my own experience, I have to say that I haven’t. Life is hard and you encounter many challenges and trials. Sickness, tragedy, financial problems, family issues and the list goes on.
When I was a little girl, we used to visit my Grandparents a lot on their farm in South Georgia. Back then, there used to be men that would go around to rural area homes and farms selling Bibles. One day while we were visiting, a man knocked on Grannie’s door and she invited him in. They were sitting on the couch and He was showing her some Bibles. I was standing in the dining room corner being curious. I was just starting to learn to read a little bit. Grannie called me over and asked me if I could read a sentence in the Bible. It read “For God so loved the world”. Grannie told me who that man was, but I couldn’t quite understand it all.
A short time later, I was at my neighbors playing. My friend called me into her room. She was a few years older that me. She had an easel that had cardboard cutouts of Bible characters on it. She began to tell me a story about the man called God and his son named Jesus. I was moved to tears. She hugged me and told me it was ok. They had a youth revival at her church and she asked my parents if I could go. I went and listened to the man who told the same story that my friend had told me. I once again was moved to tears at only around the age of seven. My life was forever changed that night. I’m thankful to my Grannie for telling me about the Father and my friend for telling me about Yeshua/Jesus. Every since then I can’t get enough of the one that nailed my sin to the stake.
Throughout my life I had so much to be thankful for. I had a good childhood, teenage years and a loving family. I got married and everything was so good. I became a Momma to a baby girl. We named her Katee. She had all ten fingers and toes. She was beautiful! I was so thankful…until I wasn’t.
Something was wrong with my new bundle of joy. She wasn’t able to keep her formula down and she tasted like someone had sprinkled salt on her when you kissed her. They did all kinds of tests. We were told that she had a terminal illness called Cystic Fibrosis. It was a hereditary disease from both parents. They said her chances to live to become a teenager were very low, much less an adult. My world was crashing around me. I was devastated. I knew our lives had changed that day. I had no idea what we were facing. I set out to be the best Momma I could be. I made the most of those years and treasured every day that I had with her. She was in the hospital more than she was out. I taught her who Jesus was and we sang about him. I took her to church when she was able to go. You could ask her “Katee where does Jesus live?” “In my heart”, she’d say.
Katee got very sick at the end. While in the hospital she was playing on the floor with some toys. She suddenly stopped and told us that Jesus was coming to get her. We had never told her that, even when they had put a DNR on her chart. We explained to her, yes that he would be coming to get her. I believe at that time that the Father sent ministering Angels to tell her, so that she wouldn’t be scared. Who knows, it might have been the Father himself. Katee lived another week before she was taken from this earth. She was with us for nearly three years.
I no longer felt thankful for anything or anyone. “Why?” I screamed at God. “I’ve served you and obeyed you! Haven’t I obeyed you?” I heard no reply. I begged him to take me instead. I cried for days and weeks, not understanding. I was so broken. I didn’t eat or sleep. I was so mad at God and I kept asking “Why?” And then one day his gentle voice I heard. “Why not Donna?”
All those years ago came flooding back. I remembered my Grannie asking me if I could read that sentence the first time reading,
“That God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who trusts in him would have eternal life.” John 3:16
I remembered that it rains on the just and the unjust. Who was I but a sinful wretch, a filthy rag, a nobody that deserved death, but was saved by grace. I don’t know what the Father’s plan was, but I know that it was perfect. He got the glory because it brought me closer to him. I know that Katee’s life was short but it was full. She knew who Jesus was because I taught her that. She touched so many lives, nurses, doctors and hospital staff along with our family and friends.
I began to realize that she didn’t belong to me to begin with, she belonged to the Father. I’m thankful that He chose me to be her Momma. I’m thankful that I had her for those few years. I’m thankful that she wasn’t in any pain anymore. I’m thankful that He loaned her to me until He was ready for her to come back to him. I’m thankful that He picked up my broken pieces and glued me back together with love and grace. You can still the cracks, but they have a stronger hold now than before, because He has reinforced them. I keep my focus and rely on him to get me through whatever challenge may come. I’m closer to my Father than I’ve ever been. I’m reminded of the verse in.
Grief is better than laughter, for sadness can improve a person. -Ecclesiastes 7:3
I understand that verse completely. It took me to come to my knees to seek His face. No matter what we’re going through, we need to pause, praise and thank Him at all times. HE has a purpose and a perfect plan even if we don’t see it. I no longer crawl, but run to Him now, even if I fall down and skin my knees. When I look up, he’ll be there with his hand outstretched to help me up. I’m going to get up and finish this journey. It’s through my grief that the Father has brought me closer to Him and for that “I’m so thankful”.