My recovery from my accident has been a long haul, trek, process, experience, adventure; call it whatever you want. But when my injury took place, I had no clue that I would be sitting here six months later realizing that I still had a potential of two or three more months to go!
In the past, for most of my injuries, I was back up to at least the “entrance ramp on the freeway” in six weeks! I’ve played and worked in slings and casts and splints and most of the times held together with “butterflies” and duct tape!
Little did I know that my recovery time would include multiple trips to the doctor, surgery, braces, slings, four months of nights where I would get (on a good night) only three hours of sleep, medicine for pain, and medicine to counteract the side effects of the medicines I was taking!
For me the greatest challenge wasn’t just the process, it was remaining in a place of gratefulness. And, on a couple of ‘bad days’ (especially after I had a totally sleepless night) or when I couldn’t do something – anything – to relieve the stress in my life – I had to grasp for gratefulness in order to stay focused on what really mattered.
It was then that I meditated on things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous and anything praiseworthy. And I made a good report and I thanked my Heavenly Father for what WAS working on my body, including my bladder and other parts that we take for granted until they don’t work. (Read Philippians 4:8)
Grateful that I had people who were willing to help me get dressed and drive me places and do things for me. Even grateful that I had, as I discovered, so many friends who love to hug me or pat me on the shoulder even though I asked them not to. Quite a problem I had; so many people who love to show affection for me!
It’s so easy(er) to be grateful when things are going right. I say easier because I think that some people never seem to be grateful!
But how do you be grateful when things are going wrong?
One of the people I like to look to is the Apostle Paul because he knew what trials looked like, and he knew how to be grateful in and through the trials- like in stripes above measure, being in prisons frequently, whippings, being beaten with rods; once he was stoned; three times he was shipwrecked; in perils of waters, robbers, his own countrymen and Gentiles and among false brethren. At times Paul was weary, toiled, had sleeplessness often, he dealt with hunger and thirst, being cold and naked. (See 2 Corinthians 11:20-30)
Paul knew that he needed to grasp for gratefulness beyond the trial and see the good in each situation as he was going through it.
Paul wrote (2 Corinthians 4:8-11) that he was:
- hard-pressed on every side…but not crushed;
- perplexed…but not in despair;
- persecuted…but not forsaken;
- struck down…but not destroyed
As Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica:
“Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 MSG)
King David said; “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Why? Because “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” (See Psalm 34)
My friend, I don’t know what life is throwing at you today or what you have been through. I don’t know how much you have struggled or cried or even grasped to find some gratefulness for your current situation. You might even now be saying; “But you don’t know my situation…!”
To you I say, with all due respect and love that I can muster; “But you, my friend, don’t know my God!” He is the God who is able to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Stop what you are doing and cry out to Him and ask Him to not only change your situation, but also change what you are saying as you grasp for gratefulness.
The Message (MSG)
Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson