“You’ve got to be kidding, right?
I can’t do that. How am I supposed to do that when I don’t feel it at all?”
My wife had just presented an idea she had to our team at work. For the week prior to Thanksgiving, she wanted people to film short videos on gratitude. Each video would look at gratitude from a different perspective or slant.
She had just asked me if I would film a video for the series on the power of gratitude when God seems silent in the middle of the storm.
That’s when I blurted out, “you’ve got to be kidding me.”
The truth of the matter is that I’ve been giving God the silent treatment a lot lately. I am in the middle of the fiercest storm of my life and I find myself often struggling to even sense his presence. He doesn’t seem to be speaking and I haven’t been listening.
Deep down in places I don’t talk about or dare admit, I’m pretty ticked at God right now. Ticked is an understatement. I find myself daring him to prove to me that he even exists.
I tell myself “Stay in the boat.” But my boat is sinking, and with it so has been my faith.
I have been so intently focusing on my circumstances that all I notice are the crashing waves, the howling wind, and the menacing waters. I’m too busy drowning to be bothered by the Lifeguard on the shore who wants to throw me a rope.
Gratitude? Seriously? For what?
I am grappling with some major health concerns in my life right now and the setbacks have been spiritually and emotionally devastating.
As a result, I am vulnerable. Despair, depression, and anger swirl around me threatening to destroy me. These are the same Enemies who attacked me when I leaned I was the father of a son with profound special needs.
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” (James 1:1-2)
“Hey James, here’s what you can do with your opportunity. Why don’t you stick it up…:”
I paused, waiting for the lightning bolt from heaven to strike me dead with that thought.
But God doesn’t strike me with lightening. Instead he chooses to hit me with bolts of his grace.
I don’t get to write my story. God chooses the role I will play in this life. But I have to remember, it’s His story, not mine.
A story he began generations ago. I simply am called to play my part. I hate this chapter in my life, but I do not know the rest of the story yet.
So I must take my eyes off of the storm, and look at the bigger picture.
I have loved the same woman fiercely for twenty-five years. She is everything I am not, and everything I wish I was. Every day she lays down her own life and her own needs for our special needs son and my own care.
I was given the gift of a handicapped child to teach me grace and unconditional love. I was blessed to raise a child with special needs to remind me of my own dependence and the presence of God in my life.
By calling me to minister to families impacted by disability like ours, God has graced me with a purpose and a plan for my life.
In giving me my own chronic illness, the Lord has given me unique and greater insight into the lives of those I seek to influence and reach.
I am constantly surrounded by an army of friends, family and co-workers who have come alongide us on this journey.
Gratitude? Not for my current circumstances at all. But, despite, and even in, my circumstances, I can be grateful.
So, I contemplate where do I go from here?
“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm..'” (Job 38:1)
And the Spirit speaks to me. It’s a whisper yet somehow it rises about the din of the storm around me so I can clearly hear. It’s the unmistakeable voice of my Captain.
“Love fiercely. Run the race. Finish strong.”
“Aye, aye, Captain.”
So thats what I will do.
I’ll love fiercely. I’ll run the race set before me. And I will finish strong.