“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
When “bad things” happen, God will use those things for good. While this most recent trial was hard (one of the hardest things we’ve ever experienced), we knew there would be lessons learned through it all. We know that God uses every circumstance to draw us closer to him. To shape us to be more like him. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 crossed my path several times during the weeks following Todd’s accident. I believe these are the lessons we were being taught.
Rejoice always. I tried, although it was hard, to rejoice in this situation. From the first moment I found out. I rejoiced that Todd was alive. That he was conscious. I tried to count every blessing I could find in the whole situation-during the 2 hour car ride to the hospital, through the sleepless nights with Todd and all the pain he was in. I reminded myself and him to rejoice in the little blessings—that he didn’t bleed out as he laid there for 4 hours. That he came to and managed to pull himself up the stairs. That his friend got up early to get some water because he had a migraine and found him when he did. That he wasn’t paralyzed. That he wasn’t a vegetable. That the parts of the brain damaged weren’t “significant” areas. That he could walk and talk and remember. That they expected a full recovery. That he didn’t die! And if we can rejoice about these things in the middle of all of this, we can rejoice always! Everyday. For every second of precious life we have. Even when we are tired. Stressed. And just plain don’t feel like it.
Pray continually. We believe in the power of prayer! That Friday before the accident, I was having a blue day, just emotional and feeling discouraged about the fundraising project we were working on. I just had an uneasy feeling about the weekend--with Natalie and I being in Birmingham and Todd being in Florence. I sent a text to my girls and asked them to pray for me. I’ve never done that before, but felt compelled to do it that day. Looking back, I believe the Holy Spirit prompted me to do that. We were covered in prayer before Todd fell down those stairs. I believe that prayer is what helped me keep it together when I got that phone call. That helped me make it through that 2 hour drive to the hospital, not knowing what to expect. I immediately sent a message to my same girls and told them what had happened and that we needed more prayer. Friends, family, and people we don’t even know, have been praying continually-- from before the accident and even still now. That prayer is the reason Todd healed so quickly. The reason we were showered with support and meals from friends and family. That prayer is what kept us going and got us through this tough time! We are so grateful for our prayer warriors! And we are so grateful for God! Who is so AWESOME!
Give thanks in all circumstances. I’m not gonna lie. I struggled with this part. This has been, I think, the biggest lesson I have learned. That and humility. At first, I was grateful, counting every small blessing I could find. But after we came home and Todd started healing. I was exhausted. I became angry. I was angry with God. I was angry about having ONE more thing on my plate. Well, this experience threw me into a servant’s role, of being the sole caregiver for our daughter and additionally for my husband while he recovered. I was forced to put both of them and their needs before my own. Well, of course, I found myself grumbling and doing it with a not-so-happy heart. Poor me. I don’t have any time for myself, etc. During that time, I read a devotional about doing things with a servant’s heart. “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) Instead of saying “I have to…”, say “I get to…” And count your blessings. My thoughts have changed from, “I have to give Todd a bath! At 6:30 in the morning (sometimes 5:30)! Before I have my coffee! Ugh!” to “I GET to give Todd a bath. Thank you, Lord that he is here. That I have a husband to bathe. And if I have to give him a bath every day for the rest of my life. I will. And I will do it enthusiastically (well, maybe once my coffee has kicked in!). Because I am so grateful to have him in my life.” It’s been a great lesson in humility and gratitude. One that has been carried over to my parenting. Two very important qualities that will be greatly needed when we bring Zack home.
Throughout this all we have been so grateful for our faith. I honestly don’t know how people get through tough times like this without God. And while we’ve learned a lot, I still have much to learn and I fail daily! But at least now, I’m able to recognize when I am being selfish and remind myself that I am so blessed to have the little messes and the minor inconveniences because I have a beautiful daughter and husband to share my life with that cause those messes and inconveniences! And I shift my attitude to a more Christ-like one.
All this to say, when you find yourself in difficult situations, you are likely under attack from the enemy. Pour yourself into the word of God. Know that he’s upholding you in his hand. Take the negative thoughts captive. Think on the true, noble, praiseworthy things. And press on! God has a plan for you. It will be worth it in the end and you will be a stronger (AKA more Christ-like) person.
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)