The morning of Thanksgiving I awoke unsure of how we give thanks for this. How do we thank Him for cancer? Do we? Do we thank Him IN this? Yes. But how do we give thanks in suffering. I was begging him to show me. Asking Him to give my heart thankfulness–above the suffering I’m seeing, above the pain that she is enduring. Above the daily strain of living with this new reality.
I began thanking Him for ALL of life…all the people, all the moments, all the gifts…all the fullness of this family, all that has filled this home.
I then read this quote,
If anyone would tell you the shortest, surest way to all happiness–he must tell you to make it a rule to yourself to thank and praise God for everything that happens to you.For it is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing.Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself than by this thankful spirit, for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all it touches into happiness…it be the noblest sacrifice that the greatest Saint can offer unto God.” ~William Law
The word, ‘calamity’ struck my heart and I wondered why. It seemed like such a drastic word for a day of Thanks. How do we turn calamity into a blessing?
The morning was spent prepping and cooking…the house was swirling with delicious smells and hard realities. Mom never came out of her room all morning. I knew she was in too much pain. I kept cooking. I set the table…beautiful…my heart ached at the vanity of it all. I didn’t care about the turkey or the table. I thanked Him for the food, the smells, the beauty, for Mom. I thanked Him for this day of life. I asked Him to help me not waste THIS DAY. This gift. The kids giggled and played. Our families arrived. The conversations were hushed and filled with concern. I thanked Him we were home, now. I thanked Him that in His sovereignty we had this time, this season…though hard, what a gift.
The meal was finished, the table ready…we began calling family to the banquet…the adults whispering that her pain was worsening…how? How do we have this feast of Thanks right now? Mom was in her bed shaking, unable to eat or drink…so cold and in so much pain. She broke my heart, reached up and whispered, “Say a little prayer, if you’d like.” I prayed hard through tears, through questions, through fear. We got her dressed in layers of coats and she left–walked right by that beautiful table full of her grandchildren and bounty. She said, “Oh, Jewels, it’s beautiful…now the kids can have thanksgiving.” She walked out in her suffering with her children around her…to the emergency room for Thanksgiving.
I leaned hard into the wall and wept. How? How do I give thanks right now? How do we thank Him when we can barely breathe? When we don’t know what this day, this illness will bring? Here was the calamity. It was as though the Spirit of God had warned me…spoken this to me early in the morning, so I could be prepared. When calamity comes without warning, we can be knocked down. I had been given a grace in my spirit. I had asked Him all day to show me…Now I leaned hard into the pain, into this wall that held me up.
I walked out and my parents and sister looked at me through tears…the kids were giggling around the table…somehow protected from what was happening. My mom said, “Thank Him for the kids.” Yes. They are HIS gifts right now. They are life. They are joy. They are ready to give thanks. So we did. We sang and ate and watched these little people around candlesticks and white tablecloths. And they were the gifts.
Mom went to the ER. She was taken care of for 4 days, battled an infection in her kidney and we watched God do some miraculous healing. So the offering of Thanks came. We kept thanking through the pain, through all that uncertainty and pain. And in this all, He chose to restore Mom. He chose to heal. He chose to bless all of us with seeing a drastic turn around in her physical. He chose to BE in our darkest moments, lift our heads, and teach us how to ‘give thanks in all things.’