This word. I cannot escape it. I try to run, because it is too difficult to understand. I feel too weary to wrestle through this right now. Anger is easier and takes much less effort. I go there naturally. But God is doing more than whisper this word to my soul. I am unable to outrun it lately...it is everywhere. I have been writing journal entries about being thankful...or actually, my lack of thankfulness. Last week, "Jesus Calling" said that I should "punctuate all of my moments with thankfulness." I have finally started reading Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts. It is beautifully written, wonderful, on its way to being one of my lifetime favorites...and so very convicting.

So what am I supposed to do with this? This not-so-gentle nudging. I thought I was thankful. I am. For all things good in my life. But, am I thankful for the bad? The things that are not in my plan? The difficult? No! The ugly, honest answer is that I am not. But if I read, search, know my scriptures...don't they say that I should be thankful for the hard too? I can't just pick and choose. We are to give thanks for all things. Of course I celebrate Him when days are good, when life is easy, when I am happy. But how quickly I turn to doubt, fear and anger when things seem to have veered off course. (Even though it is only in my perspective that we have gone off track - it was His plan all along.) Perpetually, in the Bible, people begin with thankfulness...the faithful, the disciples, Christ...they are always thankful first. I knew this, but I needed to really see, to be reminded...and God has used Ann Voskamp to gently begin nudging me back to truth

"Do I believe in a God who rouses Himself just now and then to spill a bit of benevolence on hemorrhaging humanity? A God who breaks through the carapace of this orb only now and then, surprises us with a spared hand, a reprieve from sickness, a good job and a nice house in the burbs - and then finds Himself again too impotent to deal with all I see as suffering and evil? A God of sporadic, random, splattering goodness - that now and then splatters across a gratitude journal? Somebody tell me: What are all the other moments? "
(Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

Of course I don't believe in an impotent God. I believe in a God who calls me beloved. Who created the universe. Who knows every intimate detail of my days. He is my Abba. Father. But if that is true, if that is my heart...then comes the hard. The part where I must live what I believe. The scriptures are clear. Thankfulness come first. In all things.

Oh my...please God, no. I don't want to embrace this. I don't. How does this look in the harsh reality of living on this side of heaven? Now, in my life at this moment. In this place, this dark hole?

Cancer. My child. Thankfulness.

Can they go together? Must they go together?

Can I be thankful that...

My ten year old is battling a cancer that threatens her life? While we are hopeful, even following treatment, her life and body will be forever different? Forever weakened? My daughter is being subjected to this grueling chemotherapy, week, after week, after week...making her so sick that it is agonizing for this mother to watch? She is unable to be a child, go to school, play sports or spend time with her friends? My other kids are struggling...sad for their sister, needing more attention, wondering why things are not the same? I haven't spent time with my husband in weeks, all of our energies channeled into keeping our family moving forward?
Every day is so difficult...balancing life, doctors, logistics...and we are exhausted?
Life as we knew it is over, never to return?

The obvious answer, the Biblical answer, is yes.

The more difficult question is how? How God?

This is the part that is going to take some time. He is slowly opening my eyes to this word, this word that I have glossed over for years. I am sure of that much. He has put thankfulness on my radar. But I do not know how to get there. To really understand this, embrace it...while my child hurts...it seems impossible. It is another of a number of things with which to wrestle...a hardness in my heart revealed by this horrible illness. I want to rest in thankfulness. I want to default to thankfulness. I don't know how. I think He will move...meet me in this...He must. He has laid it on my heart, yet I certainly cannot find peace in this on my own. I am too weak.

I am off to start my list of 1,000 things...but knowing that it may be a slow process. I am still struggling to breathe, so I will search for one blessing at a time. My prayer is that it is truly as eye-opening and  heart-healing as I suspect it has the potential to be. Initial obedience can lead to significant heart-change.

Thank you Ann for sharing Truth that I needed to hear...and for doing it in such a gentle, poetic way.


BumbersBumblings said...

I read that book last fall and loved it. It's not an easy thing to stick to the list! If you have an iphone, they have a 1000 gifts app that's really easy to use. Have you read the chapter on hard eucharisteo yet? Definitely what you are going through!

I'm not sure if I've commented before, but I've been following your story for the last month or two. Praying for your family and your precious little girl.

Madre Minutes said...

Thank you for your open and honest response to cancer. I am finishing, though not sure we are ever finished with it, this May after two years of treatments. Cancer is doable is so many ways and when you know the Lord as you and your child do it is even more possible. Ann's book too got me through some rough patches, but keeping our eyes on the prize which IS Christ Jesus helps ease the burden this world seems to throw at us. Our wonderful choice is Him.
Blessings and peace. He is risen! He is risen indeed.
Kindest regards,
Barbara Collins†

Julee said...

Found your blog through Ann V.'s blog. I am rereading 1000 gifts again...such a blessing. I enjoyed looking at your blog today. Reminds me of our families journey seversl years ago. Our son was dx with Alastic Anemia at age 15 mos. He and I spent two years mostly apart from the rest of our large family as we spent that time in a Children's hospital five hours away from home. Watching our precious Jonathan undergo chemo, rsdiation. etc... Was certainly painful. We had prayed since the behinning that above all else, God would be glorified through Jonathan's illness. Of course God knew our vote was that he be healed but we knew more importantly that God wanted us to glorify Him in all things. And He was! So very many.lives were touched and the good news of salvation through Jesus shared with so many through the two years of our son's illness. I still marvel and am so humbled at how God used that time for His good purposes. Jonathan died after a bone marrow transplant at age 3 1/2 yr. It was awful of course. But we look back and remember how so very close the Lord was through it all and how He ministers to us in grief and recovery. This happened almost 5 years ago.
We have a large family of bio and adopted kids. Jonathan was a surprise domestic adoption. We had him with us from his birth. He was Down Syndrome. He was such a blessing to our family we have since adopted five more Down Syndrome children. I leave in months to get our new DS son age 5 waiting in china. He may be terminal due to his serious heart defects but we are trusting God to give us all we need to do what He says. I just wanted to write you and hopefully encourage...i know the road you find yourself is pretty "hairy". I am praying for you, your family, and your daughter.
Mommy to many(almost 31 just 16 still living at home) who were born in U.S., China, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and South Africa

Maria & Cameron who loves Jack!! said...

Thank you for sharing so deeply ... it is so raw...I am humbled that as I came to read your blog today, I was so overwhelmed with so many problems pressing in on me as never ever before, an undiagnosed but seemingly serious health problem included, and I have not been happy all day, and certainly not grateful, but angry and complaining! Thank you for helping me to face the reality of God's word that in all things we are to be thankful!! This is not what I thought I needed to hear today, but it was so much what I needed! My prayers will be with you!!

Amy Breitmann said...

Thank you for sharing your honest heart.I am a cancer survivor and I understand the struggle of trying to reconcille painful sitiuations with God's tremendous love for us.

Please read my daughter's post here. http://belovedinbluejeans.com/my-cancer-his-story.htm Maybe it will encourage you. It's called "My cancer HIS story" Not always happy endings on this earth to cancer, I have walked many of those roads with women who's earthly battle ended. But God is a God of redemption. Keep walking with HIM.

Much love and prayer,

Susan said...

Cancer. My child. Thankfulness.

I've said these very words as well.

Thanks for sharing your heart. I'd love to read more about your daughter's journey.

My son is brain tumor survivor! He did his treatment at St. Jude 7 years ago.

Cancer free now! Praise God. I realize everyone's story is different.

So nice to meet you! Will pray for your daughter.

Keep holding on to HOPE!

kellygreen said...

I have read Ann Voskamps book, and followed her blog for the last few years. It is indeed one of the most touching and life changing books I've ever read. And yet, there's a part of me that wonders, does anyone ever have the whole truth, the whole understanding of what God is doing? I have been listening to two pastors who teach on healing, and their view is different---that God is a good God, and like a loving Father, He would never put sickness on his children. That disease is from the enemy, and we must fight it at all costs. THAT speaks to me as well. I cannot claim to "understand" what you are going thru.....only barely do I have some inkling, as I walked daily with two friends, one who lost a husband, the other his child, to illness and disease. And daily I cried out (as I'm sure you have, too) "The bible says Jesus healed ALL who came to him!" The only answer I received back was "Prayer is Powerful......whatever you ask for in My name...."
Perhaps Ann's book helps us deal with "what happens when I pray, and it doesn't go the way I want it to?" But I will continue to pray, and pray for your precious one, because I believe that is God's will for all His children. Jesus said that if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. Is it God's will that your child be healed? Look at Jesus---he healed ALL who came to him. Hang on, dear mother, your prayers are powerful.....

momkalua said...

Thank you Tiffany for sharing the real, awful rawness of struggling with thankfulness. I pray to be like Ann, and to breathe gratitude. My husband is this way. I have the blindness, the ingratitude, deep in my bones. I struggle to see God in everyone like Katie. My little one is 9 and has epilepsy. I see how God has blessed me through it all, but I struggle to be grateful. May God bless us all as we seek to see His face!