I had a simple post in mind, one that could easily be typed up in only five minutes. It was a post that would briefly share the physical struggles I have had this week and then focus on a list of all of the many wonderful blessings for which I am grateful. But it didn't sit right with me. Something was missing. The post I had in mind I was mostly choosing to ignore the hard things and just focusing on the happy and cheerful things of life. It is good to be grateful for those things, but gratitude should go farther than just focusing on happy things.
I have been mulling things over last night and this morning. I've never put so much thought into a Five Minute Friday post! I have been thinking about gratitude, suffering, and Ephesians 5:20 in which we are commanded to give thanks for everything. Everything. Even the weakness, loneliness, and bad days. After much thought and prayer, here is my Five Minute Friday post. (Disclaimer: I forgot to look at the clock when I wrote my five minute post. I probably went well over my allotted time.)
This has been a difficult week for me. On Monday I felt pretty well in comparison to the last few months, but after a meeting that afternoon and supper with my family, my body was done. I was tired, weak, and exhausted. It is now Friday, and I still haven't recovered from Monday.
My health has been steadily declining since September. In December my health started declining more quickly. My body is weak and tired, and I have to spend most of my time in bed. When I do choose to push myself to have friends over or spend extra time with my family, I pay for it for a week or more. These are hard and challenging days for me.
As I think about gratitude in the midst of my current circumstances, my mind keeps going back to Ephesians 5:20. I look it up in my Bible, and it says, "giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
For everything? I am to give thanks for declining health and diminishing energy?
Yes, I believe I am. As a Christian, I am to give thanks for all things. Even suffering is a gift from God.
I turn to Philippians 1:29, and it reads, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake." In this verse, "granted" (echaristhe) means to give freely and graciously. God in His sovereignty bestows suffering. Suffering is a gift.
On these weak and tired days suffering feels like anything but a gift. How can this be a gift? And how can I give thanks for it? It helps to remember Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
And there it is. God is working all things for my good. Even dysautonomia. Even declining health. Even the loss of energy. These things are, as Joni Eareckson Tada says, "a severe mercy." Because God is ultimately using all of these things for my good, I can thank Him for them. I must thank Him for them.
I think of 2 Corinthians 4:17, my favorite verse: "For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." Wow. What a reason to be grateful for affliction! The suffering that I endure faithfully now will result in great reward in Heaven, a reward that is completely out of proportion to any hardship I endure.
Thank you, Lord, for this severe mercy. May I never forget to be grateful to you for your many blessings, whether they be pleasant or painful.