Struggles and afflictions in life produce an assortment of emotions…thankfulness is not usually one of them. In 1990 when I found out my cells had gone awry and allowed cancer to grow inside me, gratefulness was about the last thing I felt.
But I kept thinking about the Bible verse to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). I knew it didn’t mean I had to praise God for every awful thing, but instead, that I could have a thankful heart even in the midst of awful things.
So a few weeks after my diagnosis, I looked for something for which to be thankful.
Let’s see . . . I have cancer at the age of 36 after taking good care of myself. No…can’t think of anything worthy of thanks there.
My three little girls may have to grow up without a mother. Nope, that doesn’t work either.
My husband already has buried one wife and now I have a 60-percent chance of dying soon. Naw, that isn’t inspiring any words of praise.
I’m going to have to take toxic chemotherapy, when I don’t even like to take an aspirin. Not much there to feel grateful about.
Finally, it came to me.
Dr. Marc Hirsh! I have a Messianic Jewish oncologist—who knows, maybe the world’s only Messianic Jewish oncologist—who last year began practicing medicine just seven miles from my home.
For the first time since hearing the words “you have cancer,” I thanked God in the midst of my devastation.
Father, you know I don’t feel any thankfulness, but I want to thank You for leading Dr. Marc Hirsh here to be my doctor.
I can only imagine God smiling and saying, “Now you’re getting it. Just wait and see how really thankful you’re going to be when I use this doctor to bless and change your life.”
The short story of what happened with our “doctor-patient relationship” is that our families became close friends and in 1996, Marc and his wife offered me a position as a patient advocate providing emotional and spiritual care to his cancer patients and their caregivers.
I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without being a patient advocate for nearly 20 years. It’s incredible to me what one small prayer of thankfulness set in motion.
Dear friend, I don’t know what trial or heartache you’re facing, but I’m wondering if you have found anything for which to be thankful in the midst of your circumstances?
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk penned a wonderful example of thankfulness even when everything around him was going wrong:
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
And though there are no grapes on the vines;
Even though the olive crop fails,
And the fields lie empty and barren;
Even though the flocks die in the fields,
And the cattle barns are empty,
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17,18
Go ahead, be thankful in all things—even when the chemo hair follicles have no “blossoms,” even though your strength “fails”” and even though your dreams “lie empty and barren.” Go ahead and rejoice in the Lord because a prayer of thanksgiving can unleash the power of God in truly amazing ways.
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