As my eyes began to open from a restless sleep....I could tell this one would be tough. My mind was telling my body to “move!” “Get up!” but it wouldn’t budge. For those of you who struggle with an autoimmune issue such as spondyloarthritis....or any kind of arthritis for that matter....you know what I am talking about. Mornings can be tough. The mind is ready to go.....the body, quite a different story. And it can be different everyday.
So as I was lying there I thought to myself....this is a grand opportunity for a pity party! Balloons and all! Then there it was....that precious still small voice of the Holy Spirit behind the wailing pity party horns, calling me. Yep, there it was.....sweetly whispering to me to replace those party horns for something much better. He told me to start thanking Him. Be grateful! It was not just an “attitudinal change” He was calling me into, but a “gratitudinal change.” Are you kidding me Lord? My joints are swollen, my body is screaming with pain....I am discouraged!....HOW? “Just listen Lisa....start thanking....you’ll see.” I would put Him to the test! So I started praising through the pain. If I told you it was easy I would be lying. My pillow was soaked with tears, but I began my journey to praise no matter what. I began to realize as I sat there crying, praying and thanking... that being grateful was the beginning of something so much deeper. He wanted me to live in the fullness of my relationship with Him, not hindered and hamstrung and holding Him at arm’s length, but experiencing Him richly....feeling at home in His presence. It was then that I realized He did not want me to be destroyed by the inevitable downturns of life, with no answer for the darts of unfair, unpleasant circumstances...a walking bull’s eye, just waiting for the next arrow to be shot in my direction. He wanted me to find the God given reserve to stand strong in the midst of confusing, condemning onslaughts of opposition and pain. He wanted my head up, lifted by the empowering Spirit of God within me, even when everything else within me was calling me for a day in bed with the lights out and the blinds drawn and pity party horns blaring. He was calling me to “gratitudinal change”....and He wanted me to be a person who’s known and marked by gratitude. I could not do it in my own strength. But I could do it through His strength. He took me from my weakest point, and began to work. I just had to let go, let Him, and start thanking.
You know what I realized? At first...thanking God in the pain was difficult....but as I released and kept on thanking....I felt it began to lift. I felt a change in perspective. I went from seeing things through my pity party colored glasses to seeing them through gratitude colored glasses. I saw the pain and problems that usually buried me take a back seat. Those problems took their rightful place BEHIND twenty other blessings that were bigger than those problems would ever be. A recurring issue that once brought out a whole range of pent up emotions was now producing a new excuse to praise God with greater fervor than ever. I knew He was more than trustworthy. Gratitude was changing things.
You know what else I have learned through this journey today? God loves me....His promises are sure, and my heavenly destiny is settled forever through Jesus. But some of His work in me and through me can only come through the valley of shadow and suffering. Was I going to be resistant to it? Or was I going to be clay in His hands knowing He is intent on shaping my life for something far bigger than my own comfort, convenience and pleasure. I could surrender, or go kicking and screaming...pity party and all.
I chose surrender! I took my pity party hat off, shut the party horns down, and chose today to make gratitude my default setting. And you know what...it worked. Not only was my day blessed with His presence, but my body was too. And my faith was renewed to know that He was my healer and would take care of it all, even on the days when my body was telling me otherwise. Again, I knew He was on this amazing journey with me.....and He would not let me down. I love my gratitude colored glasses. I pray you get some too! They beat pity party glasses any day!
I challenge you to make gratitude your default setting today, and see what happens!
See you in your new glasses!