By Amy Renaud
Blessed. The go-to-Christianese word. The word that just might make you cringe when you’re not really feeling it.
As an army wife, I have had seasons of struggling to see the blessings in front of me. When my husband is away, the kids are wonderful but exhausting. When the car isn’t working and I’m stranded in another city while he’s serving elsewhere, you know, there’s been struggles. God has taken care of us even in times that did not seem ideal.
Even when I was falling apart.
Hubby was away for two months on a training exercise, three weeks of which there was no communication whatsoever.
I finally stopped fighting. I stopped dreading every day he wasn’t home. I chose to make the most of the season. For our sons. For my husband. For me. And for the Lord. I was missing out on so many opportunities to bless others. First of all, our kids. They needed their mom. Not a miserable version of her, but the version that did fun things with them and made them laugh.
I found that I really could have peace and joy in every season, and I had the power to set that atmosphere in my home. And I wanted to.
By the time my husband was able to call I was in a much different place and our home hasn’t been the same since. I realized I had so much to be thankful for. Healthy and happy kids, a hardworking and loving husband, family close by to spend Thanksgiving with, friends who were willing to part with their second vehicle to make my life easier. A wonderful church family, and a God who loved me enough to show me how a new attitude could change the face of our home.
Honestly, with a one and three-year-old, I definitely had enough to keep me busy. But every time my hubby would go away I would simplify our lives to the point that we weren’t really living anymore.
I love to sing at our church, but I didn’t think I could do that without him to look after the kids. After that Thanksgiving I figured out a way. It involved picking up babysitters and being incredibly organized, but keeping this outlet of ministry did wonders for me.
Also, I probably needed more sleep. Common sense, I know. Sometimes there are practical things we can do to make our seasons better.
But, let’s face it. More sleep won’t fix everything. Some of you reading this are going through some really tough seasons.
When I am struggling to be thankful, I think of my dad. His mom, my grandma, passed away when he was 13. Easter weekend, 1962. After some time, my grandfather couldn’t care for my dad and his two brothers any longer. At about sixteen my dad and uncles were placed in, what we now call, foster care.
Whenever I ask my dad about that time of his life, he simply says, “I am just thankful my brothers and I were together and in our community.”
Even though they were only allowed up from the basement (other than a couple of times) with the family for meals and baths. They weren’t mistreated at all, but hearing how thankful my dad is for this time, when I feel he deserved so much more… well… it amazes me.
That season was about eighteen months long, at which time they went to live with relatives.
As a teenager, my dad stared at a blank wall and said, “God, if you give me a family like I don’t have now, I’ll help as many people as I can for the rest of my life.”
My parents married in 1970 and are still in love to this day. They have four daughters and eleven grandchildren. Although he hesitated to go into the ministry at first (even as my mom knew they were called), they have now been pastors for more than forty years.
I looked up “blessed” on dictionary.com. Do you know what the first definition listed was? Consecrated, sacred, holy, sanctified.
By default, if you know God, you’re blessed. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you are blessed.
I have seen some of the most wealthy people be miserable. And some of the poorest filled with joy. Blessed doesn’t equal money.
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance.
Philippians 4:11 NET
Maybe blessed equals salvation. Maybe blessed equals redeemed.
In times when I have been down, my dad has said to me, “Find something to be thankful for. First and foremost salvation.” If only I had a nickel for every time he told me – or anybody, for that matter – “Just keep a right spirit.”
Life isn’t and never will be perfect. But in every season, there is something to be thankful for. The examples from my life certainly aren’t as heart-wrenching as my dad’s. But I share them because they are real, and there’s another reason as well. It’s my dad’s response. After all the hardship my dad faced as a teenager, his response is still compassion. I pray that I can respond to others in this way.
If you have to put Post-Its all over your home as reminders of all there is to be thankful for, then do it. It’s a real perspective shifter when you can find something to be thankful for every day. The Bible tells us to speak of things that are not as though they are (Romans 4:17). So thank God every day for your miracle until it comes to pass.
Never stop trusting the Lord. Never stop being thankful. Never stop believing that His mercies are new every morning. Speak faith. Speak life.
I’ll leave you with Matthew 5. Nothing better depicts what being blessed really boils down to than this passage:
When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. Then he began to teach them by saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
Matthew 5:1-10 NET
Amy Renaud is a happily married army wife, mom of two active boys, and is so thankful for salvation in Jesus. Without Jesus she’s pretty sure she wouldn’t last a day. Amy is a historical fiction and devotional writer, is usually caffeinated and writes with chocolate within arm’s reach. She loves praise & worship, travel & missions and – when she isn’t writing or singing – she can probably be found in her kitchen cooking or baking. Or in a corner somewhere reading. With coffee and chocolate. Amy and her family make their home in Ontario, Canada.
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PS. Emily was a guest on the writing blog Seriously Write this week. Check out her post here: Wait! Don’t Submit That Until You Do This…