After I picked to write about this topic, I instantly wondered why. I am notoriously a negative person by default and I often struggle to find joy in everyday moments. But perhaps, my negative heart needs to try to see joy in the midst of a difficult season of my life.
My family and I just moved here in the beginning of May and my husband’s parents followed us here a few weeks later. They have always been a big part of our lives and especially a big part of our kids’ lives. I often told people in the middle of our move that at least my in-laws were moving here too so there wouldn’t be too much change for our kids.
But God had different plans for us. In the middle of August, God ushered my mother-in-law into heaven much to our surprise and dismay. And now we find ourselves in the wake of grief during a tough holiday season. It’s tempting to sit and point a finger at God and wallow in wonder, confusion, and anger but yet I know God longs for me to find abundance in the midst of my family’s brokenness.
A few years back I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and learned the art of actually counting the many gifts God had given me in the midst of difficult circumstances. I remember thanking God for the little things – our house, our yard, my family, morning snuggles, evening fires, etc. But where I saw God turn mourning into joy is when I would press in to see the gifts in the tough things he allowed into my life.
When I was reading that book, I was spending the majority of my days in bed often writhing in pain due to postherpetic neuralgia (prolonged nerve pain from the shingles virus). So I found myself thanking God for my bed, the high ceiling in my bedroom, the sun shining through the window blinds…but after weeks of straining to see God in the little moments, I grew weary. Really? How can I be thankful in the midst of this horrible pain?
But every time I thanked God for a little blessing, it forced me to see that God had not forgotten me. Yes, he allowed me to go through something terrible, but He was also still there standing next to me in my deepest pain. I remember lying in bed one day and thanking God for my pain – thanking Him for the blessing that came from my pain: a deeper relationship with my husband, several new relationships with women that helped me with my children, and ushering me into daily dependence on my Savior.
And as I thanked Him for the difficult circumstance in my life, it forced me to put Him on the throne of my heart. It allowed me to step back and see that this life isn’t about me and my happiness – it’s about bringing Him glory in everything I do. Little by little, God started cultivating delight in my heart even though my circumstance did not change. Even now when I look back at that time in my life when pain wreaked havoc on my physical body, I remember feeling joyful – perhaps the most joyful I have ever been.
And so now, I find myself in another difficult season of life. But I think I have a choice: I can continue to point a finger at God and stay angry or I can choose to thank Him for the gifts He continues to give me in the midst of this broken season.
I am constantly reminded that God never changes. The Bible says He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So no matter what happens or what God allows, He is still God and He is still good. And as I take the time to thank Him for all of the gifts He still gives me, it allows my eyes to be open. It allows me to see Him again even though He’s always been there.
I’m not sure what you are going through today, but I encourage you to see God today. Look for the ways He is still blessing you. Some days, it may be something as simple as thanking Him for a house to live in, a cup (or three) of coffee, the crumbs on the floor that remind you of your crazy kids, or for two legs that allow you to walk. I know some days it can feel like a stretch but trust me, as you look to see God, your heart is reminded that you have a Heavenly father that has never stopped loving you. And as you see Him, He will cultivate delight in your heart, through one small gift at a time.