by Donna L. H. Smith
“How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved, yet You gave Your very life for me. The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude. All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee. To God be the Glory.”
I used to play and sing that old song by Andrae Crouch from the 1970s. It’s helped me get through a lot of bad times. We all have them. I’ve followed the Lord now 48 of my 60-some years. I would have thought I’d have learned something about going through difficulty, but sometimes, I just let the “feelings” take over.
Two years ago, right now, I was in the middle of a string of testing and disappointments, and some non-serious, though painful physical challenges. One after the other, until I wondered whether I was even a woman of faith anymore. I’d be angry nearly every day. It was very difficult. I began to feel “sifted like wheat.” How would I get through this?
When would it end? Would God intervene, or was I going to have to just “grin and bear it?”
In the midst of all this, an email came from “out of the blue.” I’d been involved in a certain type of ministry fifteen years ago but hadn’t ministered in public in that way for ten.
This email from my church astounded me.
It said, “You are receiving this email because you have either ministered this way before at church or you’ve been asked to serve in this way.” Really? Nope. I was honest with them, but my embattled heart was given hope for restoration.
A particular weekend focusing on this ministry, and me being allowed to be a part of it meant so much to me. Because it occurred right in the middle of that string. I almost dared not hope until it was confirmed I’d serve.
During this whole period of time, I couldn’t say thank you, Lord, except for the restoration of ministry. That, I was especially thankful for.
When we’re in the middle of testing, sometimes it’s all we can do to hold on to our faith.
After my mother died in 2005, I said, “I will follow the Lord, no matter what!” And I said that almost every day, sometimes many times a day two years ago during this period of months.
Once the emotional challenges began to let up, in early 2017, significant tooth pain developed, and I ended up with three extractions and two root canals last year.
This last winter, lots of people I knew suffered from the flu. I had it the winter of 2017. Two bouts of it. That helped my tooth pain for a while, because I wasn’t eating much, and I began to lose weight (which I certainly needed to do).
On February 1st, 2017, in the middle of my first flu bout, I got a call from my literary agent, that my book had been approved for a special publication program. It’s a non-traditional historical romance western, and I’d tried unsuccessfully for several years to find a publisher.
I was so thankful! I couldn’t celebrate too much though, because I didn’t feel well. It was something like: “Yay! Thank You, Lord. Now, I’m going back to bed.”
Being cynical comes naturally to me. Maybe it’s my age. But a lifetime of different disappointments and rejections (which I have before birth issues with), can make me angry, bitter, and hard-hearted against the One I love more than anything or anyone.
The enemy of our souls wants to steal our joy, rob our gratitude, and destroy our faith if he possibly can.
That’s where thankfulness comes in. When we thank the Lord for whatever is going on in our lives, especially in the midst of the bad, God is released to begin to work on our behalf. We’re an “instant” society these days. We want it now!
God sometimes does move “suddenly.” It’s just possible, however, that He’s been working things out behind the scenes.
About 18 years ago, I was going through a rough patch while in a Bible school program. One of my teachers said this to me, and I’ve never forgotten it. “This is a test. And how you respond will determine your future.”
We all go through gut-wrenching, trying and difficult times. It’s how we respond. God is big enough to handle our “flying off the handle” anger when we’re surprised by negative circumstances. Thank goodness.
It’s the attitude of our hearts, how we really feel deep down that God is concerned about. Thankfulness and gratitude keep our hearts soft towards our wonderful Lord. When we allow anger to rule us (as I have, and I repent of), the enemy sneaks in to try to create strongholds of bitterness. Speaking for myself, sometimes I repent more than once a day for things I’ve said or done.
Scripture is of great assistance when we need help to turn and go a different direction (which is what “repent” really means). Here are a few scripture verses that help me.
- Psalm 33:2 “Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings.” That’s when I play the piano.
- I Chronicles 16:34 “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
- Psalm 7:17 “I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.”
- Psalm 86:12 “I give thanks to you, O lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.”
I will always praise, worship, and give thanks to the Lord my God, because of everything He’s done for me. To God be the glory.
Donna L.H. Smith transplanted from Kansas to Lancaster County, PA. Her debut novel, Meghan’s Choice, made the finals of both the Selah and Will Rogers Medallion Awards. She manages a website for writers and is involved in several professional organizations.