Attitude of Gratitude
It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, but much more difficult to show gratitude when our world is falling apart.
How Deep is our Attitude of Gratitude?
As it nears Canadian thanksgiving, our thoughts turn to being thankful and offering words of gratitude but does it extend into every aspect of our lives? Do we cultivate an attitude of gratitude during the rest of the year and in every circumstance we face, even when the puzzle pieces of our lives feel like they are dark and don’t belong in the picture we hope to paint?
If we feel grateful do we express it? William Arthur Ward said this, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
Do I have that attitude of gratitude and do I express it?
The Bible, especially in the New Testament, gives us commands to be thankful. In 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Being thankful when everything is going well might be easy to do but when those tough times come it does not always flow from our minds, hearts or mouths so easily. It is a lesson God taught me years ago but he still needs to bring it back to remembrance over and over.
My Critically Ill Newborn
August 4, 1982 our youngest daughter arrived into this world. She suffered a stroke while she was being born and did not breathe for over seven minutes. I prayed in desperation as I waited. Once she gasped for a tiny breath, the nurse rushed her into an incubator with oxygen flowing to help her continue to breathe. Over the next twelve hours she quit breathing more times than I could count and needed to be resuscitated. Finally the neonatal portable unit arrived with all the right equipment to help my critically ill newborn. She ended up needing to be intubated and lay in a coma fighting for her life. The specialists gave her a five percent chance to live. If she survived there was only had a five percent chance she would talk or walk or do anything else.
Do Not Be Anxious
On the second day of her life as I stood beside her incubator in NICU, not knowing what else to even pray, God brought Philippians 4:6, 7 to my mind. It was like he opened a big Bible in front of my eyes and told me to read it.
It said, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving present your requests to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Well anxiety had plagued me for two days as I worried about ever holding my baby, ever taking her home, and whether I needed to be planning a funeral. Here God told me to quit worrying. I could not do that on my own strength.
I had been begging and pleading with God to save my baby’s life. I had prayed repeatedly for a miracle and yet she still lay in a coma and we had no idea if she might survive. I did not know what else to pray.
Then I got to that next phrase, with thanksgiving, and stopped. I could not remember being thankful about anything in these last couple days and was not sure at this moment what to thank God for.
At that moment God began to ask me a series of questions. They were so strong and audible in my mind, I was sure the nurse standing beside me could hear them. Question 1 – “Do you believe I could heal your baby right now, perfectly so the doctors would wonder why she was in NICU?”
I quickly answered, “Of course. That is what I have been begging you for. I know only you have the power to do that.”
Question two followed right away. “Do you believe I could give the doctor’s the wisdom to help her survive and thrive?”
Again my answer echoed the first response. “Yes God I believe you can do that. I have been also asking for this.”
Question three came right on the heels of my response, “Would you still trust me and believe in me if I took her home to heaven?”
I hesitated. I did not want to even think about this possibility. But deep inside I knew I would still want to trust God and responded, “God I would still trust you.”
A Prayer of Belief
I began to pray. “God I believe that children are a gift from you but you never said how long they would stay with us here on earth. Thank you for this beautiful baby girl you have given me. I know you love her more than I ever could and you love me that way too. God you do what you want with her and me. Just give me strength for whatever is coming.”
At that moment I thought the nurse had wrapped a warm blanket around me. That is what God’s peace that passes understanding felt like to me in that moment.
Gratitude For What God Could Do
I opened my eyes but nothing had changed. My baby still lay in a coma fighting for her life. I still had no answers about what might happen. But my attitude had changed. Gratitude for what God could and would do filled my heart and mind with peace in the middle of dark times.
There is so much more to this story. My baby girl, whom we named Amee, survived. She defies all medical expectations with the amount of brain damage she suffered. Every specialist has told us everything she can do is medically impossible. Did it look like what I wanted the most or expected? No but it has been a journey of learning lessons I might have learned no other way. God is faithful to provide the strength I need for each step of the journey.
Choose to be Thankful
Today I need to choose to be thankful, to live with an attitude of gratitude and to let love fill my heart. I choose to have God wrap me in a blanket of peace by trusting Him, being thankful and looking for glimmers of hope and glimpses of joy each and every day. It is not always easy and some days I forget to make this choice. I am grateful for a loving and merciful God who waits for any one of us to come before him with praise and thanksgiving, pleading for him to help us and offering our thanks.
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.
Visit Carol’s website carolscorner.ca
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