Have you heard the play on words as it relates to 2022? People are predicting it will be 2020 TOO. Is this prophetic? I hope not, but time will tell. My guess is the mere suggestion stirs some emotion in you, it did for me. It’s understandable to have a mild PTSD reaction when thinking of 2020. What if we were to face something as upending as what we experienced in 2020? Would you be mentally ready for it?
The good news is that no matter what crisis we may face in 2022, we have the freedom to choose how we will respond to it. Here's a man playing the piano amidst the rubble of what used to be his home after a tornado ripped through his Kentucky neighborhood on December 11, 2021. The song he is playing is "There's Something About that Name" by Bill & Gloria Gaither. The lyrics give us an indication why he chose to play this song in the midst of the crisis. "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there's something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, it's like the fragrance after the rain. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let heaven and earth proclaim, kings and kingdoms will all pass away. There is something about that name."
It seems this man has learned the secret of being content in any situation. He has given us all a gift that transcends words; a gift that touches the depths of our souls. We too can learn the secret of being content in any situation. The secret is… a heart filled with gratitude. Even though this man lost his home, his heart was full of gratitude because he did not lose his family.
When I was faced with the most difficult crisis of my life, I did okay for the first 10 days. But my character buckled under the weight of the pain, trauma, and uncertainty. In 2008, our 10-month-old son was diagnosed with kidney failure and failure to thrive. We nearly lost him on several occasions. We were hospitalized for 10 days. After a surgery and other treatment protocols, he was discharged with a feeding tube. This was the start of a long road to recovery. Day after day, I awoke to the uncertainty of whether I would find my son dead or alive in his crib. I don’t wish this fear on my worst enemy. It messed with my head and I tanked for a year and a half.
I’ll never forget the moment I began to climb out of the pit of despair. I was driving my older kids to school and thinking about all the misery in my life, when I heard the Lord say “Will you just be thankful?”
It arrested my toxic thinking!
Thankful? I didn’t know where to start. All I could see was the pain. So, I started with the basics. Since I was driving my car at that moment, I gave thanks for the gas in my car and for the paved roads I was driving on. It wasn’t earth shattering, it was simple. Yet it was the seedling of a new beginning. The Lord set me on a course to learn the secret of being content in any situation. None of my circumstances had changed. Our son was still very sick, we had a mountain of medical debt, my husband’s salary was reduced and I had lost friends in the process (crisis is good for weeding out friends who are not true friends), but gratitude became the ladder I used to climb out of the pit. Thankfulness took up residence in my neural pathways and squeezed out my complaints. My mind was being renewed.
Are you in a season of life where your mind needs renewing? I believe every day is a good day to renew our mind. But perhaps you are in desperate need of renewal because you have experienced loss this year - the loss of a marriage, the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, the loss of relationship with family and friends, and/or the loss of your freedom. Loss has a way of threatening to rip a whole in the canvas of life. A significant loss can infect the whole of life; our vision can become skewed so that all we see is lack, absence, deficiency, and brokenness. Take heart, hope lies ahead. It’s calling you by name, inviting you into a place of renewal.
“Gratitude isn’t merely the way we feel some of the time – gratitude is the way we frame all of our lives” – Ann Voskamp One Thousand Gifts.
Gratitude actually renewed my mind. It rescued me from the precipice. I nearly fell into the depths of a dark depression. Thankfulness was my life preserver. When I allowed myself to be thankful, it was hard to entertain anger, despair, or self-pity. Along the journey, I discovered a secret; when you can count your blessings, the emptiness of life dissipates. Before long, you find a life filled with abundant joy. Joy is not circumstantial; it is the wellspring of life. Joy is knowing that the goodness of God holds you close even in the midst of the storm. Joy is seeing deeply; it’s the art of looking beyond your circumstances, to gaze upon the beauty of life itself.
“The glory of God is the human being fully alive and the life of the human consists in beholding God.” – Irenaeus, 2nd century church father (emphasis mine).
Will you join me this next year in renewing your mind? When you practice gratitude each day, your soul remembers what to do when crisis hits. This is the gift the piano playing Kentucky man gave us. May we cherish it!
Philippians 4:12 “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
I am grateful for each of you. You have chosen to come alongside me on this journey of life. Together, we are a community of truth-seekers who boldly declare that we are NO LONGER ENSLAVED!
Counting my blessings,