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An Attitude of Gratitude – June 25, 2013

June 25, 2013

My life seems to run in themes.  The last few weeks the theme that has been running through my mind is not the one what you would probably expect.  I am not consumed with the upcoming weddings of my children.  I am not focused on my riding or even my painting.  I have been dwelling in my past.

This is not necessarily a bad thing.  I have been processing things that I have been trying to deny and/or hide for years.  I’ve been facing personal demons.  I have been learning things about my personal faith and strength.  I have been healing and becoming stronger.  I’m not necessarily ready to talk about some of those things here but I am ready to talk to myself about them and that is a huge step for me.

Sunday morning at church Brad spoke on obstacles.  We all have questions and sometimes those questions become obstacles to faith.  Sometimes, because we don’t fully understand, those questions can prevent us from fulling trusting God.  Sometimes they can keep us from believing in His love, His faithfulness and His promises.  This week Brad spoke of suffering.  Many people don’t believe in God, or don’t trust God, because of all the suffering in the world.  It’s a funny thing, I’ve been through a lot of suffering in my life and I can honestly say that I believe in God because of my suffering.  My perspective may be a little different from Brad’s but the end result is the same.

Brad addressed the fallacy that once a person chooses to follow Christ than their life should be a bed of roses.  After all, isn’t a blessed life full of peace and joy?  Doesn’t it mean that God’s blessing will protect you from heartache and pain?  I don’t know what those people have been smoking but they are waaaaaaaay off base.  My belief is that blessings sometimes come wrapped up in ugly packages.  Sometimes we really don’t want the gifts that God wants to bestow upon us.  Sometimes we go out of our way to refuse God’s blessings.  Are we insane?  No, just misguided.  As Brad pointed out, those who want to refuse God’s blessing of suffering are worshipping at the altar of themselves.  He asked us to consider what event started the Christian faith.  No, it wasn’t the birth of that tiny baby in the stable.  The event that started the Christian faith was when that tiny baby stretched out His arms and allowed them to be nailed to the cross, along with all of our sins.  How does a faith born out of suffering promise it’s followers a pain-free life?  It doesn’t. 

Sunday morning I posted the question, “Is God fair?” as my FaceBook status.  My daughter answered, “Ask Job.”  Later she posted, “If Job can still understand that God is fair, so should everyone.”  There was more to the conversation but I loved my daughter’s answer.  You see, my daughter walked alongside of me through much of the suffering that I’ve gone through in my life.  Her perspective was different, her pain was different, but we walked through them together.  And my daughter, whose sufferings started almost from the moment she was born, understands.  I was brought to tears.

Today’s gratitude list:

  1. My abuse.  This is kind of a repeat from last week but it still holds true.  I am grateful that I have had the life I have had.  I would not have chosen to be physically, mentally or verbally abused but since I was I have grown from it.  My abuse has shaped me into the person I am today.  I often prayed for God to take my trials away but instead He walked with me through them.  He comforted me, He helped me grow.  He is my Heavenly Father.
  2. My past.  My past is my past.  It has shaped me and molded me.  Through my past the Lord has taught me and disciplined me.  He has blessed me with plenty and He has blessed me with lack.  I would prefer a life of rest and peace from here on out but I know that is not likely.  God won’t be done with me until He takes me home.  My past shows me I can do everything I need to do as long as Jesus walks alongside of me.
  3. My strength.  I have had many people tell me that they admired how strong I am.  I don’t know that I am strong.  I know that God, who I lean on and into, is as strong as I need Him to be when I need Him to be.  I’d be nowhere without Him.  He is my strength, my portion, my shield.  He is my Life.
  4. My joy.  With all my posts recently you would think I am a very depressed person, bogged down in self-pity, pain and anguish.  Quite the contrary, due to God’s love for me I have a deep source of joy within me.  I know I am loved and cared for and that causes deep peace and contentment to seep from every pore of my existence.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have my sad moments, I have pain, but I know the source of my life and that brings me great joy.
  5.  The rain.  Yes, this is June.  The first day of summer was last week and it is raining in sunny California.  Later this week it is supposed to reach over 100 degrees and that’s a huge change from today’s 68 degrees.  For this girl from foggy, foggy San Francisco 100 degrees is at least 20 degrees too hot.  I am enjoying the cool weather as much as I can.  I’m taking the dogs for a long walk this evening.  Leelee won’t like it but she hasn’t liked anything I’ve done this week.  Oh, did I not mention I am dog-sitting until Wednesday evening?  Leelee is helping me realize just how much I love my sweet Lucy.

Dear Lord,  You have said, “My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” –Isaiah 55:8 NLT.  No where is this illustrated as clearly as when we endure suffering.  I know the suffering that I have endured is nothing like the suffering of your martyrs.  I know it is nothing like the suffering endured by Christians in other countries, especially the countries where it is dangerous, foolhardy and even illegal to be Your Follower.  I do know You had plans and reasons for my suffering and I rejoice that You have chosen me to be worthy of suffering for You.  Please continue to walk with me as I travel down the road of self-discovery and healing that is in front of me.  Please place people in my path that will help me along the road You have chosen for me.  I love You, Lord.  I pray all this in Jesus’ name.  AMEN

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