Grateful For the Hard Times

Have you learned how to have a heart of gratitude? According to researchers, there are specific things you can do daily to cultivate a grateful heart. Some are obvious. Some not so obvious. But all are oh, so important.

Like learning to recognize God’s presence in everything. And by everything, I mean EVERY THING. The good, the bad and the ugly. No matter what, you have never walked alone.

Think back. Look for it. You’ll see.

A few years ago, my son was in the hospital for brain mapping for his seizures. I was there with him for a week, because they needed a family member familiar with his seizures to press a button every time one happened. Little or big. I loved getting to know my young adult son on this intimate level. We talked, we laughed. When he had visitors, I’d step away for a break. For the most part, we were captive room mates. It was a strangely enjoyable time.

We had spent family time with my older brother just a few days before entering the hospital, and he had promised to visit Chris that week. It was quite a drive, so nearly every day I would leave him a message describing the traffic, say I knew he had to get up so early for work, and he should wait until the weekend to come visit. All was well.

Except it wasn’t. When my brother didn’t show up to visit Chris by Friday evening, I called him several times. No answer. I called his neighbor, who said the car was in the driveway, but lights were out in the house. I called my nephew, a police officer, to ask what I should do. He immediately drove there, and looking through the window, could see my brother lying on his bed. He was gone.

I know what you’re thinking: WHAT could possibly be good about this situation? How can you be thankful for your brother being found lifeless in his bed?

Clearly, I’m not thankful for the death of my brother. What I am thankful for is the orchestration of all the surrounding events:

* God chose to call my brother Home in the gentlest of ways. He simply took a nap after work, and didn’t wake up. I’m grateful.

* I was helplessly locked in to a commitment of being in the hospital with my son. If I hadn’t been there, I would have driven out to my brother’s house and I would have found him. I’m grateful to be spared from that.

* My nephew is a police officer in the adjoining city and when he called the dispatcher, he knew her. He knew the protocol of what to do in this situation and said to me, “Tami, God arranged for this to happen when I could take care of it for you.” I’m grateful for him and his good heart.

* Officers arrived & they had a common ground with my nephew. When they looked through the house and found no evidence of foul play or suicide, they reported it as such and the mortuary was called to pick up my brother, and not the coroner. This never happens in Los Angeles county. I’m grateful.

There is more, but I think you get the picture. As I think back on that night, I see God’s handwriting all over the situation, and I am grateful.

Since then, I’ve entering into times of beautiful blessing as well as hardship. I see God’s hand in that, as well. And I am grateful.

So very grateful.

Look at your life. Think back. Take some time to see how God connected the dots in your helpless and even hopeless situations. Never once, did you ever walk alone.

I hope you’ll see.

There is so much to be grateful for.

A Thankful Heart is a Joyful Heart

“Thankfulness opens your heart to My presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective.”

“If we give thanks to God, He will give us joy in return.”

–Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling”

Sometimes it is hard to be thankful when things are tough. But when we do bring to mind the things we are thankful for despite the struggle, we will turn our minds to what is greater and positive and the Lord will bless you and bring joy to the situation.

Can you think of a time in your life that was hard and later you realized it was a blessing? Maybe your joy didn’t come right away. It came a day, a few days, weeks, or months later. Did you thank God during that hard time?

When I think of a time in my life when the blessing came later it was when I broke my arm.  I was a sophomore in college and went on a snowboarding trip. I broke my right humerus in half (no it was not funny) and I was in a cast for 3 months! I was in the middle of my semester and had to miss 2 weeks of classes! I was unable to use my right arm (I am right hand dominant) and almost had to drop out of school.  It wasn’t until a couple years later I realized what a blessing and joy this struggle was. I work in the sports medicine field and since I broke my arm, I have been able to relate to my patients on a deeper level. When I tell them my story, and encourage them, they instantly trust me and press on! It was a rough time in my life, but God is using my struggle for His glory. It was only because of Him I was able to get through it. He gave me strength! Now I am thankful for that struggle and see it as a blessing.

IMAG0182 (This is what my arm looks like now. It will forever be bent, but dont worry it’s fully functional : ) Prasie the Lord!)

I try to see the joy in circumstances and give thanks to God when I am in a hard time. It changes my whole perspective and puts my focus on Jesus. And he fills me with joy because I was obedient.

Try it! And don’t just be thankful during the thankful season we are in. Be thankful always like it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

If you have encountered Christ and he has been faithful, thank him. If he has given you blessings, thank him. If you love the sunset, mountains, ocean, fall colors, family, friends, thank him. He deserves our thankfulness, and in return he will fill you with JOY!

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What are you thankful for?

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! I am thankful for you!