Thursday, July 28, 2016

2,555 Days to Gratitude

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2,555 days ago. I can still recall it like yesterday. We were sitting in the hospital room waiting for test results, laughing and talking, when the neurosurgeon on call walked in. Dr. King asked us to sit with him at the computer as he patiently explained where the tumor was located, and what they were planning to do. I squinted at the the black and white photo on the screen, and I willed myself to keep breathing. As the voice in my head screamed out question after terrifying question, I practiced my breathing. In and out, in and out, in and out.

He looked intently at me. “Do you have any questions?” I remained silent, unwilling to vocalize the only question in the front of my mind. Instead I smiled and thanked him.

After he left, I jumped into Mommy-mode. There were phone calls to make, people to talk to, children to provide for. The activity kept the fear and anxiousness at bay.

Surgery day started early, but it was promised to be a quick one-day event. I could rest when he was safe in his room again. Surrounded by friends and family, we prayed, laughed, talked, and ate as two hours stretched to eight, and then ten. After 12 hours, a nurse came to get me and take me to the recovery area to speak to the surgeon. As Dr. Talley gave the details of the surgery, I listened without understanding; his words didn’t relay any meaning. I silently followed him to see my husband.

As I sit thinking back over those hours and days, I’m struck by the number of believing people that God placed in our path. From praying nurses, to long-lost friends, God sent person after person to speak encouragement and healing to us. But I didn’t see it as clearly then.

I remember staring out the barred window, tears streaming down my face. The darkened room was claustrophobic, stifling. I hadn’t slept for more than two hours at a time in more than two weeks. I struggled to formulate a sentence. This woman of faith and power couldn’t remember how to pray. I needed help.

I finally went home to shower at the doctor’s insistence. I turned on the TV for some kind of noise, and began drying my hair. Suddenly I hear the TV preacher say, “Someone is sitting on their bed right now, watching this program and wondering why God is silent. Where is He? Does He even see you? And this is what He is saying: He isn’t ignoring you.The teacher doesn’t talk during the test.”

The teacher doesn’t talk during the test. The test is to prove what we already know, what we have already learned, and where the knowledge gaps may be. He isn’t silent; He’s proctoring the test.

James 1:2-4 reads, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” Through the tests and challenges, God pointed out the places in my life that needed to be re-evaluated and freshly surrendered. I saw the places that I had allowed bad seeds to grow, and remain unchecked. My heart garden went through a major pruning process in order to find any sight of the gift: gratitude.

I’d like to say that after that day I had no doubts, but the road to gratitude has been painstaking. I have had to weed my heart's garden continuously, working to take every thought captive (2 Cor. 10:5).

But through the last 2,555 days, God has proven Himself more than faithful, more than gracious, more than able. He has sung over my restless thoughts (Zeph. 3:17), led me to refreshing waters (Ps 23:2) and called me to rest (Matt 11:29). God in His wisdom chose to not totally heal my husband (yet), but He has given partial healing with full grace. He has asked us to trust Him, thank Him, and praise Him for the gifts we don’t understand. He has asked us to hold unto His hand as we walk through the dark, and He has taught us to listen for His whispers. He has shown us that true gratitude doesn’t depend on our circumstances, but only on our hearts.

This isn’t the path I would have chosen, but these last 2,555 days have lead to a beautiful place: gratitude.


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