My last post was an honest attempt to take a challenging situation and squeeze out every ounce of awkwardness and humility and create a picture of reality as seen through the lens of positivity and humor. The REAL reality: THIS. IS. JUST. HARD. Yes, the humor does exist. No, not every moment is horrible. Yes, the experience is a God-given one which I will one day look back on and deem “beautiful”. But I’d be lying if I said it was easy to see beauty in the current sickness.
I know it is temporary. I know I come across as whiny—I agree. I feel guilty for complaining when there are people who deal with chronic diseases that rob them of living a full life.
Why has it been so hard for me, a glass half-full kind of person, to stay positive? I long to glide through this period of life with the kind of grace, energy and strength that is inspiring to those around me, but that has proven harder than I expected. Up until recently, life has been almost too easy for me. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for everything I’ve been given, but I have felt slightly unprepared for some of the struggles that have come my way. I realize how pathetic that sounds, because the majority of those struggles haven’t been that bad compared to what many people experience! I’m being painfully honest.
Even still, a challenge is a challenge. Each hardship is frustrating because it is a reminder that we are ultimately weak and helpless on our own. We are nothing without God, our source of strength, whether we acknowledge that or not.
I love when I see people thank God for something. Every day, I see “God is good!” following announcements of newborn babies, reassuring doctor reports, etc. But I can’t help but think, “Would you still say he was good even if it didn’t turn out like you wanted?” The truth is, He IS still good. He is, in his very nature, good, and cannot be anything but.
The Bible tells us over and over that we should praise God regardless.
In Psalm 34, David displays an attitude that is much like that of other faithful believers. He says “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” It sounds beautiful and fluffy if you skim through it. But read into the context, and you’ll find a man who was running from the king who was trying to kill him for no good reason, and that king also happened to be his best friend’s dad. Life was anything but a fairytale. Yet he declared that he would praise God at ALL times. Not only that, but he would EXTOL the Lord, which means “to praise enthusiastically”. That doesn’t mean he didn’t ever get upset or wish that life was better; there are many verses where he highlights his despair. But he made a choice to praise God no matter the circumstance, because he knew that the world as he knew it would end and God’s plan would be the only one to prevail for eternity.
Lord, I want to be better about thanking you no matter the circumstance, no matter how good I feel, no matter how healthy my kids are, no matter how many nights I spend hanging over the toilet instead of eating dinner with my family, no matter how this pregnancy turns out.
I want my kids to see someone who is thankful regardless, who will extol the Lord at ALL times. I don’t want them to think that God only loves them if everything is right in their life. I don’t want to shield them from the bad. As much as I want to see them enjoying life, providing comfort and happiness is NOT my top priority. I want to build on their character traits which will guide them through a life of inevitable obstacles. More importantly, I want them to praise God through each one.
Challenges build strong character. Challenges build godly character if we choose to thank God in the midst of them.
As David says next, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.”