Mark bounced up and down on my knee. It was mutually beneficial. He enjoyed the horsey ride and I appreciated the outlet for my nerves. I was about to hear the words I’d heard so many times before. I just didn’t expect the doctor to actually throw his arms up in the air with them. He had no answers. He couldn’t help. He literally gave up on Mark right then and there. And, I was instantly happy that Mark was facing the doctor and not me. This way he couldn’t see the tears of frustration welling up in my eyes as I fought them back.
This scenario was playing out all too often for Mark and I. And I was becoming accustomed to feeling overwhelmed by sheer amount of unknowns, abandoned by the medical community and woefully ill-equipped to navigate a situation that was completely out of my control. Mark and I had hit yet another dead end on our search for medical answers and practical help. The struggle was all too real.
Right there in the exam room as Mark continued to balance on my knee and worry threatened to swirl all around me, I clung to thankfulness like an anchor. In that exact moment, how very grateful I was that I knew, served and was loved personally by a God that had everything under His powerful and compassionate control—including the situation I was currently in yet again.
How easy it is to praise God when things are going well. But praising Him when things are hard is much more difficult. It requires sacrifice on our part. And, as I looked the doctor in the eye, right in that moment, I purposed in my heart—and mind—to surrender to God’s sovereignty. God alone was in control (Proverbs 19:21, Isaiah 45:6-7, Job 12:10 and Psalm 115:3). Not me, not the doctor, only God. I would practice humility as I tried to quench my own craving for answers. After all, God has promised to provide our every need (Philippians 4:19)—including what we need to know in His perfect timing (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
God doesn’t want us to be riddled with worry (Matthew 6:25-34, 1 Peter 5:7). Instead, we’re called to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18)—even the most difficult ones. And when we purpose in our hearts to do this and follow through with our thoughts, actions and choices, then we are truly showing sacrificial praise to God. God could’ve made robots, but He didn’t. He created man with the freedom of choice—including the choice to honor and love Him with our lives. And when we purpose to do this—when we choose to give thanks to God even in the difficult times, that’s when we praise God ‘as a living sacrifice’ (Romans 12:1b). These are the moments when we worship God in ‘spirit and truth’ (John 4:24).
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15 (ESV)
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Discuss: What is something specific that you struggle with or worry about?
What are some concrete ways you can choose to honor God’s sovereignty in this instance?
We can know that God holds all things together (Colossians 1:17) and works all things for good (Romans 8:28). How can reflecting on this help you practice more thankfulness at all times?
Prayer: Oh Gracious God, How humbling it is to know that You see me, hear me and work all my situations and struggles for good. May I praise You honestly as I seek to acknowledge Your sovereignty in my life with a thankful heart in all my ways and in every circumstance. Amen.