As I sat at the dinner table this evening enjoying food and drink with some family and dear friends, we each shared stories about what we were thankful for at this time of year. Common themes were family, friends and health. Those are good things that certainly are part of a rich life. Many noted that this time last year, my wife Kristin was seriously ill. She was just getting out of the hospital on Thanksgiving Day and not even walking, but today she was up and around helping with the meal, talking with family and friends, and playing games with the kids. It’s easy to be thankful for health, but unfortunately not all of us are healthy. Though improving, Kristin is still sick, and many close to us are many times worse. Our hearts break for the pain we see people walking through. Can we still be thankful?
To close the sharing time at dinner, Kristin told many people around the table how much their support has meant to her over the past year. I was proud of her. It was moving; there were plenty of tears to go around. Then she read a clip from Max Lucado’s You’ll Get Through This where he writes of difficult seasons in this way:
“This chapter in your life looks like rehab, smells like unemployment, sounds like a hospital, but ask the angels — ‘Oh, she’s in training’
As Christians, we believe that the difficult times are avenues for maturity and growth. I can’t answer all the questions about why people are sick…but I can say that I know, beyond any shadow of doubt that we can use these times for growth. We can take the perspective of the angels and recognize that the hell we walk through is training for life. My family is different this year than they were last year. My daughters have learned compassion in a way that books could not have taught them. Sometimes they sit and rub Kristin’s feet, or try to make her breakfast…they are learning something invaluable – and it’s all because of Kristin’s sickness this year and the perspective we have chosen to take in our home.
For me I have learned once again that my plans don’t always go as planned. Most of the effort I had expected to put into birthing a new church in Red Bank, has been put into my family. But I have seen God put the right things in place without my help. He likes to give me casual reminders that things aren’t really about me. Because of this, some of the most exciting things I never could have imagined have started taking foot. 2018 is going to be a great year.
Before I go, I have to say that I know many of you who visit this blog have been praying for my family, and I’m incredibly thankful for that. I’m so deeply thankful to you, and to God for you. I’m also thankful for getting to be a small part of all your lives through the years. Seriously…it’s a blessing to have you all. I hope today that whatever you are going through, you can see it as training and be thankful in the midst of it.
PS – I’m also thankful for this lovely cover picture, courtesy of my friend Nicole Dolan.