Prevention is better than cure they say. Somethings though, you can’t prevent from happening. Most things you prevent from getting worse, if you make the right choices.
Take my illness. I couldn’t prevent myself from getting ill. That was beyond my power. Even how long I was ill was beyond my power. But how I handled my illness, the attitude I chose. That was in my power and totally my choice.
We all know whingers and complainers. People who find something to grumble about in everything. It’s too hot, too cold, too predictable, too much change, not fair, you don’t understand how I feel. Nothing is ever good enough and there is always, always someone to blame for their problems and why their life is so bad. The Israelites in Exodus were excellent at grumbling. They weren’t content with freedom from 400 years of excruciating slavery, no they wanted garlic and leeks as well as freedom. I’m not surprised God got a gutful of their ingratitude and grumbling.
One of my pet peeves are grumblers. Yeah sure we all have days where we wear our cranky boots and everything feels like it’s ganging up against so we complain and groan. Take a moment and do that if you must but then move on! Don’t build a fort and live there.
Life didn’t stop when I got ill. No, the waves kept pounding at me and bad things kept happening. Twice more my property flooded (3 times in 4 years). Insurance wrangling is more difficult than herding cats. Friends disappeared and hurt me. It took a while for the right specialists to be found to help me. The list goes on.
I had “every right” to grumble. Every right to build a fort of bitterness, unforgiveness and ingratitude. Many would have justified a choice to abandoned God in this storm. I could have chosen to hide, stop, give up, crumble into a life of grumbles.
Instead I chose to be thankful. In the midst of the struggle, even on days when breathing was a chore, there was always, always, something to be thankful for. Gifts from heaven littered my life, and I took the time to stop and be thankful.
My best friend challenged me several times saying “Gail, how can you be so positive and thankful when all this unfair, unjust, ungodly stuff is happening on top of being so very ill?” That would make me smile and list my blessings. It was a long list and here’s a few:
- Jesus Christ was holding me close, loving me big time and sending me gifts like rainbow lorikeets in my garden to watch as I just sat and breathed through another day.
- My family was extremely supportive. I couldn’t ask for better.
- 4 friends walked with me (the rest disappeared including church and ministry friends). It wasn’t easy for those who chose to stay to journey with me through this.
- God protected me from much criticism and unkindness by washing many people out of my life through the pelting rain of the storm.
- God sent 3 floods to my home so I could claim contents insurance to pay my mortgage and not lose my home too.
- I could focus on just being sick and getting better. I didn’t have to feel guilty for putting my kids through a season of “being ignored” (a blessing of childlessness I hadn’t foreseen).
- My church family of the time were amazing. They didn’t look at me strangely when I was so ill I sat on the floor during church because I didn’t have the energy to sit on a chair. They didn’t take my “poor attitude” (too ill to be polite) personally. They just loved me anyway, even though who didn’t know Healthy Gail and I hadn’t given them a thing.
- Sending in the right people at unexpected times to love me and provide what I didn’t even know I needed, like a free holiday to Townsville with some beautiful Godly friends.
- And the conversations I had with Jesus – wow, on my good days, these were precious.
Yesterday I read in my Bible these words from Philippians 2:
“14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
During my illness I wasn’t trying to be a shining light. I was just trying to get better. Yet my thankful attitude was a shining light because I chose not to grumble.
How did I do this so well when so very ill? Years ago I chose to work on obeying these three commands from 1 Thessalonians 5:
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It can feel hard to know the will of God, scary even, but these verses struck me one day as being a simple way to always be in the will of God.
By choosing to be thankful in the easier, happier seasons, when the stormy, winter of my illness hit, being thanking was a habit that helped me, and those around me, get through it so much easier.
Prevention is not always available. Choosing to be thankful is always available. Whatever your circumstances, can prevent things from getting worse by being thankful, if only that it changes your attitude and day.
Crumble your grumbles, chose thankfulness and take another step. You’ll be thankful you did.