Thanksgiving When Life is Very Hard

hospital1Continued from here.

If you are in a season requiring endurance, you might think my problems that I shared in my last blog entry are no big deal when compared to yours. First, I caution against ever comparing your problems with someone else. No matter what you are dealing with right now, it’s hard, and whether or not my problems are greater or less than yours won’t change the size of your own issues. Whenever we are in the midst of a problem, it’s overwhelming – that’s what makes it a problem! So, resist the temptation to compare your issues with anyone else’s.

Choosing thanksgiving is possible (albeit more challenging), even when you are dealing with very difficult life circumstances. As I shared in this blog entry, I was able to find much to be thankful for while my then-15-year-old son was recovering from major back surgery. I lived in the hospital with him for five days and then took care of him (along with my husband) after he came home from the hospital while also juggling a full-time time. I have been through many difficult life challenges, including being abused as a child, my father’s sudden death when I was 16 years old, and infertility, but that season of caring for my son through the back surgery was the hardest experience I have ever been through in my life.

Because I knew this experience was going to be hard, I asked many people to hold my family and me in their prayers. I also made the choice to express gratitude as often as I could throughout the experience. I said thank you numerous times a day – to the nurses, visitors, to friends who emailed me their support, and anyone else I could think of. I intentionally looked for reasons to be grateful: My son survived the surgery and was expected to make a full recovery (he did). Numerous friends and family showed their support through visits, cards, emails, texts, and gifts. I was able to take FMLA leave while my son was hospitalized so I didn’t have worry about losing my job for taking leave. We had health insurance to pay for most of the $100,000+ surgery and hospitalization.

Yes, it was true that I had many legitimate reasons to be upset. It was also true that I had many reasons to be grateful. It was my choice where to focus my thoughts, and I chose to focus them on gratitude, which led to joy. As I said previously, that season of my life was stormy, but it was never dark because God’s joy transcended the challenge, giving me strength.

Continued here.

[Graphic: Photograph of garden area at the hospital where Grace’s son had major back surgery. Courtesy Grace Daniels.]