So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7
The news was so shocking upon first hearing that it took a few moments for the significance of it to sink in. Most people responded with a stunned silence while in their eyes I could see the many questions forming- some I could answer and some that I could not. Eventually, the familiar words would echo… “I’m so sorry.” “I just can’t imagine what you are going through.”
Still in shock myself, with each new person to share with I also had to prepare my heart to deal with their emotional response. Reliving with them the freshness of shock, horror and sadness gushing forth again. I found myself either reaching out to comfort them offering assurance that it was going to be okay, crying with them, or simply standing there waiting for the emotions to pass when I didn’t have the energy to engage.
That telling point marked an amendment in each of these relationships. Sweet friends who had always freely shared their heart often seeking a listening ear and encouragement, now did so reluctantly and with reserve. On the occasion that I would have the opportunity to have a meaningful exchange, their heart’s content would either be precluded or concluded with an apologetic “but this seems so trivial compared to what you are dealing with.”
It was through this experience that I adopted the phrase “Just because I’m in the fire doesn’t mean you don’t feel the heat.” I assured each sweet friend that yes, although I was in the midst of a difficult journey, this did not quench my desire to continue to be their friend in the fullness that I had always been. If anything, in these moments I was thankful for opportunity to focus on someone else remembering that there was more to life than my own problems. It was a gift to me to be allowed to continue to walk in the gifts of encouragement and counsel that I always had.
In darker moments, these kinds of comments caused resentfulness to build in my heart. You see, I never volunteered to be the Poster Child for perspective. I didn’t want to be the motivation for others to realize how thankful they were about how good they had it and how really, in the grand scheme of things, it could be so much worse. It made me angry when I considered the thankfulness that arose in other’s hearts when they considered what it might be like to walk in my shoes.
One day, while ruminating all of this, the Lord gently interrupted. “Let them be thankful.” I heard Him clearly and sat on it awhile contemplating all that He offered in such few words. As often is His way He can say so very much while saying so very little.
Ultimately I decided He was right. If considering my current circumstances offered others the perspective that they needed to help them overcome whatever they faced then Praise the Lord. If observing my journey helped motivate a heart of thankfulness in the hearts of others then Glory be to God. Isn’t this just one more area where the Lord could take what the enemy meant for harm and utilize it for His good?
Perspective and thankfulness are gifts in the life of every Believer. Sometimes they are given unintentionally through the most difficult of circumstances and yet, they remain gifts still.
Father, help me to have a life which overflows with thankfulness. Help me to maintain perspective as I live each day.