Thanks in the midst of a storm...

"In everything give thanks....?!"

Even in the midst of trials? 

Recently, I've heard of so many woman who are in the midst of a storm. Storms like breast cancer, fibromyalgia, the loss of a baby, shadows of past memories, loneliness, depression, a shaky marriage, a wayward child, frustrations of motherhood, financial troubles, the list goes on and on....  How can they be thankful?

I've heard it preached that we should be thankful for everything. I've also heard it argued that I Thessalonians 5:18 says that we should be thankful IN everything not FOR everything. But as I was looking up verses about the subject, I found Ephesians 5:20, "Giving thanks ALWAYS FOR ALL things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." But how can we be thankful FOR a trial?

My mother was diagnosed with leukemia when I was sixteen, and I struggled with this idea of giving thanks for a trial. How could I give thanks for my mother's suffering and possible death or my father's agony? How could I be grateful that my sisters and I were virtually motherless for a while at a time in our lives when we needed her most? 

Later on, I struggled with loneliness as a single woman. How could I be grateful for the pain?

How can someone be thankful for the loss of a baby they waited and prayed for? Should the cancer sufferer's first thought be, "Thanks, God, for letting me suffer?" 

I heard a missionary wife once testify of the trials that God had allowed her to endure. She came to the USA on a medical furlough for the safe delivery of her baby. She had no reason to suspect that anything was wrong. Her and her husband prayed for this child, they loved this child, they had great hopes for this child... but God had other plans. They returned to the field with empty arms. How could they rejoice? How could they be thankful? Later they were forced to return to the USA due to health problems. She was then diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Why her? She was trying to be a godly wife and mother. She was serving with her husband on the mission field.  Be thankful? for what!? 

These are two quotes that I copied in my Bible from her testimony:

"Thank God BY FAITH for what He is doing WITH your trial." and "God doesn't waste ANY experience."  

You see, in the midst of a storm it is hard to find a reason to be thankful. But she didn't have to wait for her situation to change, she could be thankful BY FAITH, because she believed that God was doing something great. She knew that God would use these experiences to bless others and to reach more souls for Him. 

My Mom has had her share of trials. It started with a difficult childhood, later after my folks were married, the doctor found a brain tumor. The day she went in for surgery, the doctors were amazed by the mysterious absence of the tumor. (Note: I forgot to mention here, that my Mom also lost their only son at the end of the second trimester.) She suffered for years from Epilepsy having grand maul seizures.  While my Dad was in Bible college, she was in a coma on two different occasions; once, for nine weeks. One coma was a result of spinal meningitis and the other was from an allergic reaction to an anesthetic during routine carpal tunnel surgery. Dad had to juggle going to school, working full-time, raising three little girls and taking care of his wife in another city. Both times my father was told that Mom would never survive, and IF by some miracle she did, she would be nothing more than a vegetable for the rest of her life.  God saw fit to show those doctors who the real Physician is and Mom recovered fully both times. 

When I was sixteen, my Mom went to the doctors for blood work. She needed some dental surgery and because of her previous trouble with anesthetic, they wanted to be extra careful. This was God's doing. Without this blood work, we would never have known that she had leukemia in an advanced stage. 

My parents went into the doctors office, only to be told that the Canadian medical system wasn't treating anyone over forty. Shortly after, the bar was raised to fifty, allowing my Mom to be treated. We were told the chances of finding a related donor (her best chance) was 1 in 5. Out of five siblings tested, two matches were found! 

Everything that could go wrong did. The radiation burned her esophagus and stomach lining making it difficult for her to eat or drink. She contracted Shingles while her immune system was at its lowest. This caused permanent nerve damage which gives her constant pain. 

Four years later, the leukemia returned. This time, she was told that her body could not endure such a harsh treatment again. As my parents left the doctors office, they were called back. The doctor received a phone call as they were leaving. It seemed that they were looking for someone eligible to test a new treatment for leukemia. Mom fit the bill. She has now been cancer free for thirteen years. The doctors can't explain it, but we can! Due to all the cancer treatments and prescription drugs, she has had minor strokes, osteoporosis, her body has aged beyond her 58 years and she has suffered other side effects. 

If you ever asked my mom why she thought God allowed all these storms, she would say, "So that I could be a blessing to others." Was she always thankful for the pain, the sickness, the weariness of it all? Probably not. But she was thankful that God would turn it all into something good.

So, how can you be thankful in AND for everything? 

1. Remember that God is God... Philippians 2:13 "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." 

2. Know that God will never leave you... Hebrews 13:5 "Let your conversation be without covetuosness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

3. Be patient... Psalm 27:14 "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart; wait, I say, on the LORD."

4. Have faith that God will not waste your experience...Philippians 1:12 "But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;" Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

5. Don't dwell on the "what if's"... Mathew 6:34 "Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."

6. Remember this world is not our home... Hebrews 13:14 "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come."

7. Remember thanksgiving isn't always meant to be easy; it's a sacrifice of praise. Hebrews 13:15 "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."

8. Pray, pray, pray... Philippians 4:6,7 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

9. Know that God will give you what you need... II Corinthians 9:8 "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:"  Philippians 4:13, 19 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me...  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."

10. Finally, be a blessing to others, share your testimony... Hebrews 13:16 "But to do good and to communicate forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

While my family went through the trials of cancer with Mom. We sang the song: "God Will Make This Trial A Blessing." This is the best video of it I could find. I hope it will be a blessing to you whether you're in a storm, coming out of a storm, or getting ready to head into one.


Patty said...

I can testify in my own life that God does indeed bring blessings from trials.

Have a great day.

J.H said...

I am new to your blog. My name is Jessica, and I am a IFB believer from Indonesia. I must say that your writting (this entry in particular) encourage me the most.
I wanted to add one more verse to your list :
God bless!

Karen said...

Julie, I don't know how you ever came across my blog but I am SO GLAD you did. The comment you left about the loss of our baby...well, it blessed my soul more than you will ever know this side of heaven. I want you to know that I appreciate you and your taking the time to encourage me along the way.


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