“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7)
When you get to heaven what if God asked, “Were you thankful for everything that I gave you?” What would you say? I was rattled by that question recently and it caused me to examine my life.
Those of us with chronic illnesses, understandably, don’t enjoy and aren’t thankful for many things in our lives. The world understands this. But God says He has brought us all things for our good. Yes–even for our enjoyment!
“. . . put (our) hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” (I Timothy 6:17b)
So how has this worked for me?
After 25 years of pain I am not the person I used to be. My main goal–now–is just to make it through the day. So the glamor of this world has faded for me. I do not hold tightly to this world anymore, but long to be with the Lord in heaven. I am thankful for this new found freedom.
Not being able to keep up with others eventually caused me to lose some friends. It’s lonely. But Jesus is a friend of sinners. So He has become my very best friend. Now I cling to the hem of Jesus’ garment and where He goes, I go. I absolutely need to walk closely with Him every minute of every day. He sustains me. I am thankful for this too.
During sleepless nights I have learned, as one of His hurting sheep, to lay in the arms of the Great Shepherd and be comforted by remembering His promises until I drift off. My Savior holds me tight through the long night. Who wouldn’t be thankful for that?
It is very humbling to have to retire from work and go on disability. But I know that this was God’s design. Now, it has given me the time to minister to others who are hurting–like writing this to you today. We who have been there can now encourage others who are just beginning this hard journey of chronic illness. What a privilege!
You see, normally, it would be hard to thank God for pain and loneliness and tiredness. But they have changed me so completely, that now I walk through life with a complete dependence on my Heavenly Father . . . and for that I am so very thankful.
Prayer: Dear Father please give me a grateful heart today. Help me trust that You are using these hard afflictions in my life for my good and Your glory! May I thank You for all things. Amen.
Welcome to our new writer!
Barbara Coleman has been in ministry with her husband for 42 years. For more that half of that time she has been coping with fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, cervicogenic headaches, lichen sclerosus, and Lymphoma. Her favorite times are spent talking with and about Jesus.
With chronic afflictions our lives have not turned out as we had planned. In light of that what is one thing that is hardest for you to be thankful for?
When we really stop and think about all the things God has created around us, it can be overwhelming. The more I am forced to slow down, the more of God I notice. This song, “Cannot Say Enough About You” with MercyMe, is about how we can’t put all that we are thankful into words–and that is what praise is for. Take a minute to praise God for all that He has blessed you with. -Lisa