If you've been reading my blog lately, you'll know we've been through many seasons of suffering. During these times I will admit I have not always been focused on giving thanks. But slowly, the Lord has been working on my heart to be thankful for the trials he has given us and to look for the beauty in life right before my eyes.
I started reading the bestselling book, 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp and I will have to tell you that's its really been opening my eyes to how I view everyday life. Ann comes from a place of pain and suffering that started in childhood and while I don't have the exact same suffering much of my pain started in childhood from an abusive parent. Ann states that "trauma's storm can mask the Christ and feelings can lie. "
I connect with Ann as she recounts her life having been living among the dead (figuratively) and letting Satan usurp her mind into thinking this is the way life is to be lived. She starts to write lists of thanksgiving and God starts to work in her heart and show her a life filled with love and awe to the beauty of big and small things.
While reading this book I have started thanking God for the gym I go to, for time to take care of my body, for the outdoor pool I can swim laps in, for the beautiful weather God has given us. I've also started thanking God for the miracle baby of my son Brayden, for his laughter and sweet smile. I've thanked God for my husband who can provide for us financially and allow me to buy healthy and mostly organic food for our family to eat. For providing money for clothes and restaurants and the ability to offer money and or goods to others in times of need.
This book is really about living the fullest life by giving thanks to God in all things.
In the beginning Ann questions where is grace when horrible things happen to our lives including babies dying and people being taken from us from terminal illnesses such as cancer. She wonders how she can wake up to joy and beauty in the midst of so much pain.
The book takes you through her life and the simple blessings she documents. I too have been looking to call out and pray for simple blessings. I do not want to be ungrateful for what God has given to us. For starters, a strong and big church family, close friends and family are nothing to take for granted. Ann says that this is the catalyst of our sins, to be ungrateful. I myself find it easy to feel situationally depressed when I am not practicing the gift of thanks to God.
Psalm 40:4 states "Oh the joy of those who trust in the Lord."
I want to experience this joy that leads to happiness as much as possible. I want to trust the Lord in the good and the bad, in the expected and unexpected parts of my life. We are often weak in our own flesh but God makes us strong through his son Jesus.
I don't want to hold on to worry when God is asking for all of us to trust him. Ann states that worry is the facade of taking control. I firmly believe that. The bible makes it clear about worrying in this passage from Matthew 6:25-34:
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
It is my prayer that we can all open up our hands to God and receive the joy he brings, that we can be like children in finding awe and wonder in the world, without the heaviness of life to weigh us down.