1 Thessalonians 5: 18 AMP
In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Job 2: 9-10
His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish[a] woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.
2 Corinthians 12: 8-10
Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Psalm 34: 18-19
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all;
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
He Won’t Fail by Todd Gilberth
Happy Twenty Third Day of Thanks Everyone!
The other day when I asked a friend how he was doing, he belted out a long list of woes that he was facing. One worse than the other. To my surprise he finished the list with "But, I am going to be grateful for even these bad things and watch everything work itself out." Can you imagine that? How often do we give thanks for that bad things occuring in our lives? Most of us, never! Even though God's word in 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us that we are to give thanks in/for ALL things, no matter what.
My friend's words struck a nerve because for the last few days I have been at the lowest of lows. The pain and anguish in my heart has been incredibly overwhelming. I've been trying to press through years of disappointment and a heart sick from hope deferred and couldn't imagine mustering up the strength to thank God for the hurt, pain, suffering and disappointments. But, my friend was right and without even knowing it he was agreeing with the word of God. Be thankful for and in all things.
So today, I'm giving thanks for ALL of my disappointments. Although they are hard things for which to be grateful, I have to believe and know that God is using them for my good and bringing about a greater measure of His glory as I go through the distress of each situation.
In the beginning of this week, I talked about specificity and God telling me about His perfect will for my life concerning marriage. I also mentioned that three years prior to the day, I asked the Lord if I could be released from waiting for His perfect plan to unfold if the opposite person's free will wasn't aligning with God's plan. I believe that God said that I could be released, after three years of obeying His instructions as I "contended" for the promise that God spoke. Unfortunately, three years later at 11:59 pm (really a total of thirteen years later), the other person's will did not align with God's perfect plan. I'm done and released and no longer waiting for something else to happen.
I walked away from that situation very disappointed. Throughout those years of waiting, I heard more than enough I love yous but never saw enough behaviors to back the words being spoken. I also obeyed all of the instructions of the Lord, which I felt were like "jumping through all the hoops," to still not see the outcome God spoke after all the obedience and effort made.
Why can and should I still be grateful for this disappointment? None of the time was wasted (even if it feels like it was) although I didn't get the outcome I was expecting. The Lord was using this time to heal me, break a four generational curse of anti-marriage off of my bloodline, and prepare me for the next chapter of my life, which includes marriage. I even learned how to love and pray unconditionally for a spouse.
This brings me to my next disappointment. Throughout our thirty days of thanks journey, I have also shared the tumultuous fight for Lilah's healing and deliverance. This fight has been for 17 years. The biological portion has encompassed autism, epilepsy, estrogen dominance and what I call an almost permanent state of PMS on steroids. The spiritual portion has encompassed breaking generational patterns/curses and a magnanimous amount of warfare. God promised that he would completely heal Delilah. But, yet, this year has been the toughest and roughest. It has consisted of physical, mental, and emotional abuse and toiling beyond what I or anyone can every imagine. Lilah regressed again for the umpteenth time; we are now on her third week of not getting on her school bus. Through the most inclement of weather, we are taking the long treks to get her to school. I've completely shifted my schedule to start projects after 10 or sometimes 11 am. Just this week she decided not to get on the bus in the afternoon as well and I had to make another 3 hour trek to get her from school to bring her home. Talk about the enemy making a mockery and having a field day with the situation! The mornings that are most painful for me is when she wakes up at 6 am already completely obsessed with not getting on her bus because of the trigger that's there. She is already calling the little boys name and saying "good-bye" to him and the bus. It's indicative that she has magnified a fear that doesn't even exist and that with all the praying, declaring the word, and fasting happening, she has decided to bow out and not even fight, in the slightest bit, against the enemy. She has already concluded that she doesn't have to fight because she has the safety-net of her mom to just take her to school as she avoids confronting her fear. Every morning, even if she gets on the bus and sees there is no real fear, she gets back off the bus and stays obstinate about taking the public transportation route to school.
Of course, Lilah is not thinking about how selfish or entitled she is. She is not thinking about the money we are wasting, which could go to a bill or her food, since we are already penny pinching and there are very little resources to sustain us at this time. She is not thinking about the the levels of stress and fatigue she is adding to my life and the lives of others who are dragged into this situation with us. She is just thinking of her own self preservation.
As all these situations have compounded, it has magnified something I have been thinking about for a long while now. I concluded that an option I have to really consider for Lilah after her high school graduation is a residential home. During our bout with the spirit of hatred, the physical abuse and the hours of toiling and no sleep crushed me. I told the Lord that I wouldn't be able to parent her in my home if that pattern didn't break. Thank God that physical pattern did break but, a mental and emotional one started. Most people don't realize that emotional and mental fatigue weigh on a person just as much if not more than the physical abuse. This week as we approach her annual meeting with her case manager, I told God, myself and Lilah that I couldn't continue like this anymore and that I would ask her case manager for a list of residential options for her. I really have done all that I can do for her. I have fought all that I can fight and can't imagine sacrificing more of my entire life, with little to no help and resources, to continue like this.
It's painful to come to this conclusion.
I've sat with this decision and feel horrible about it because it wasn't part of my vision or expectation for Delilah's future. I thought she would be healed by now. Thinking about her not being healed yet made me so much more angry at God. My consistent questions to Him are, "where are you? Why haven't you completely healed and delivered her yet like you said you would?" I can't lie. Sometimes the questions turn into somewhat "accusatory" statements like, "I thought you said you heal ALL manner of diseases. I thought you are a good father who gives good gifts to your children. I thought you said you set the captives free from the strong warrior and retrieve the plunder from the fierce. I thought you contend with those that contend with me so that my children can be saved. Didn't you say that when the righteous cry out that you would deliver them? I thought there is nothing too hard for you. What happened? Why are you not healing Delilah? Why are you not destroying this mind altering spirit and helping her to get on her bus in the morning? Why is your voice not louder than every other voice. I can't believe you are not doing what you said you would do."
It's one of those very hard moments. I don't understand what God is doing and why he hasn't done what he said yet. But, even as I don't understand, I have to find a way to trust God and see this as something working for my good. I have to be okay with Him getting the glory out of this situation, even though I feel forsaken, mocked by the enemy, and left to take a cup or pick up a cross that I never asked for.
I even wonder if God wants me to be at the end of myself to surrender this situation completely to him. Maybe I've fought as much as I can fight and have done all that I can do. Maybe Lilah has to pick up the torch and fight for herself this time around. I've learned that parents can want so much for their adult children but the adult children have to want what the parents want for them too. Nothing works if the children don't want it. I can't want something for Lilah that she doesn't want for herself. So maybe I need to bow out so that she can understand what it means to have "skin in the game" and fully step into her anointing and callings.
I think I'm most bothered by the residential home having to be an option now because I can't understand why God would make me do all of this fighting and the outcome still be such an adverse one. I feel like the prophet Jeremiah after God told him to buy his cousin's land right before they went into captivity and the Babylonians took it. Jeremiah asked God, "why would you make me buy this land and waste my money if you knew we'd be captured and the Babylonians would take it over anyway." I feel you so much right now Jeremiah! I'm saying to myself and God "I could have put her in a residential home as a young child but instead you asked me to sacrifice my career and put many things on hold to accommodate Lilah's need. Eighteen years of my life were put on hold and sacrificed to get to the same outcome and reality that would have happened if I didn't sacrifice. That doesn't seem like the righteous being recompensed or rewarded for the seeds planted in the ground." This idea of putting Lilah in a residential place is so contrary to what God showed me as her future or what I want or would want for her. So I'm forced to do two things. I can suck up my disappointment and still hope for what He said, even though I'm disappointed with God's timing and what I think of as a lack of movement, or I can completely give up on believing for Delilah's breakthrough.
If I can be honest. All my eggs have been put in God's basket and I'm completely lost and like a deer in headlights thinking about him not coming through for us. I also don't have the strength to pray, fast, or even believe for it anymore. Talk about a catch 22! I'm in a really bad place. Another crushing defeat! Still no complete healing or deliverance after "actively" waiting 17 years for it. How does one bring oneself to believe or hope for something- in this case Delilah's complete healing- when things seem beyond hopeless and it seems like the Lord has completely forgotten about us? That word, "hope deferred makes the heart sick" has been my very story. For months, my heart has been sick and bleeding. For these past few days, I could barely pray for myself, although I have mustered up the strength to get on a phone to listen while my prayer partner prays for me and throws me a lifeline. Each day as the situation gets even worse, I put one foot in front of the other. I put my Bible on audio and let it flush my mind, knowing that the words will eventually hit my core and bring my dry and thirsty spirit back to life. Some days the only thing I can do is listen to worship as I yank myself out of the fog of despair.
I'm enduring the long suffering the best way I know how and pray that the sufferings' expiration date is really soon.
Here goes another disappointment.
Several years ago, God had me write a book, Thirty Days of Thanks: A Journey Towards Healing and Deliverance, unbeknownst to me as I started my journey. When He finally revealed that it was a book, I spent so much time in consecration dedicating that book back to Him. Months later, I was on a prayer line. I was asked to attend the prayer line to pray for a participants' father who had recently had a medical emergency and was in the ICU.
A young lady with a prophetic gift was praying for and prophesying to several people on the prayer line. I didn't know of her and had never met her before. When she got to me and my friend who invited me to the line, she began to give us both a word of knowledge and then she started to address me. She described my book and said that God was going to use it to blow my mind. She began to say other things that I'll hold in my heart. Here I am five years later, and my mind is still not blown. And I don't mean that to say I'm not grateful for the many people who have read it and were completely blessed by it and told me so. I am so grateful, honored and privileged that they would even read it. But, when God uses his mouthpiece to say that He will blow your mind, if you can imagine it, then that's not what God has in mind. His word says, no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him. The book has a curriculum that I would love to use in at risk populations as a tool of healing and deliverance for them. In the beginning, a friend shopped the curriculum around with possible vendors. One vendor who acted as if she was interested had us going around in circles, which was a very frustrating ordeal. Right now another interested vendor is reading the book and the curriculum and may purchase it. It's a possible prospects for the new year. However, after five years of being obedient to write the book, leave my job, start the business, there is very little to show for the many seeds sown for this harvest. Am I frustrated? Absolutely.
Another blow of disappointment? Yes. As you can see the disappointments are mounting up and they exist in different areas of my life.
The real question is what can I be grateful for in this situation? I can be grateful for the book that was produced and blessing other lives. I'm grateful for the book sales that translated into food on the table, bills paid, and money towards the rent. I'm grateful for learning the gruesome task, two years after the paperback and Kindle versions were created, of how to make an audio book and editing audio content. (I respect any and everyone who has mastered the skill of doing this tedious and very hard work.) Though, I would not readily sign up to do that again. I'm grateful for the ability to be self employed and own my own business, although that hustle is quite real. There is still so much that I have to learn about everything but, there is something to be said about being a forerunner entrepreneur and business owner in my immediate family.
In addition to all this stuff, I lost my uncle two weeks ago. He was one of the people in my life who always made me laugh and smile and would check on me and Lilah to ensure we were okay. It's hard to be the "strong" person/friend because very little people check on your status and how you are doing. Very few will consistently hold you up in prayer because they call you with their prayer requests. So when my uncle went home to be with the Lord, in my mind, I was like "really Lord? You know I don't have that many people who are close that see about me. Did you really have to take him too?" I also was upset that my uncle's death was what I call preventable in the grand scheme of things. By the time my uncle went to the doctor, a medical condition that is fairly easily treatable was metastatic and had spread to his bones and throughout his body. A simple screening, in time, would have detected that his prostate was sick. However, many men don't go to the doctor, even when things don't feel right, until it is too late. That happened to be my uncle's lot. I'll miss his jokes, even the raunchy ones. I'll miss him declaring at any given moment, "God is good!" And I will definitely miss those check-ins.
Disappointment is such a hard thing to grapple with because of the tension between reality and expectation. All I can say is that even in all of these seemingly bad circumstances, I have learned many things. I can also say they have driven me to a cry of desperation, a seek in finding the Lord, and an endurance when I think I have absolutely nothing left. For those of you who are where I'm at and feel what I feel, all I can say is sit in those feelings and press with everything you have. Suffering has an expiration date and then there is a resurrection.
Today as I give thanks for disappointments, I invite you to do several things. First, get your journal and write out the many disappointments you are facing at the moment. Ask yourself what you are learning from those disappointment and think of ways you can be grateful for them. Second, i invite you to call that strong friend or person in your life to check on them and pray with them. Every one needs to know that they have at least one person who is willing to check in. The holidays are very hard for some because they've lost love ones or they're lonely and far away from family and friends. Let them know you care.
Have a Great Day of Thanks!