Over the last couple of weeks, I have listened to a couple of women share their stories of suffering. Stories of being smack in the middle of the unknown. Praying fervently and continually for relief.
The first woman tugged at all my heartstrings. The other women around the table offering words of encouragement and scriptures to pray. She just sat with us and cried. Her sorrow and hopelessness tangibly felt by all of us.
The second told her story and, y’all, my heart broke for her too. So much pain and it just came out of nowhere. Other friends commented their encouragement, empathy and agreement in her prayers for healing. Her expectation and sure-footing pointed to a God bigger than any of her circumstances.
And as I was praying for and thinking about these women, I saw myself so much in each of them.
In 2007, I was the girl stuck in the middle of an impossible mess. Praying for God’s will to be done but mostly expecting more of the same pain. There was no joy or contentment in my life. No way to know for sure, but I feel confident in saying no one really wanted to be around me.
I was living life weighted down by Woe is Me.
Woe is not my friend but he certainly attached himself to my world view, my faith and my expectations for the future. His spirit animal is Eeyore. And does anyone really want to spend just gobs of time with Eeyore? (The same can be said of Tigger too but that’s another post for another day.) (Also, Tigger is my son’s spirit animal.) (Yes, I am tired. Thank you for your sympathy.)
In 2008, when God asked me that one simple question, what are you grateful for? He reached right down and changed my entire world. He didn’t remove Woe in one fell swoop. Although, He could have. Instead, He gently walked me through changing my identity from Woe is Me to His Victory.
A year later, I could stand at the door to what could either be a continuation of the path we had been on for the last three years or I would move forward, expectantly and joyfully walking with my Father to see what He had in store next.
I chose to walk.
The only change? God taught me the life-altering power and freedom of gratitude.
I don’t want to try and sell you a bag of goods here. This isn’t voodoo or the power of positive thinking or even self-fulfilling prophesy. This is the Creator of the Universe inviting me to join Him, actually stepping into my identity as a co-heir with Christ, and walking with Him through the victories of life.
My prayer life changed from….Thy will be done, Lord. Please grant me the strength to endure the pain and the patience to wait on Your plans to be revealed. I am hurting, Lord, but, whatever You want to do is what I want.
To…Lord, I am grateful for the battle You’ve already won here. For the healing You have already planned. For the victory and freedom You hung on the cross to ensure. I stand confident of this, You are already there and I am grateful for Your presence.
My prayers went from what has not been done and expecting more of the same.
To prayers of grateful anticipation. Of overcoming through His blood and being able to testify to that victory.
It might seem like not much of a difference but, oh friend, it is night and day. One is saying Oh Lord, why were you not here? Why didn’t you come and heal when we asked for it? Like Mary and Martha in their grief over their brother, Lazarus’, death.
Or are you Jarius? A synagog leader, y’all. Risking his position, his family, his reputation as a Jew, to seek out Jesus and ask Him to heal His daughter. Y’all, he didn’t say, “Jesus, if it be your will, would you please, if it’s not too much trouble, could you please, maybe, possibly, change my daughter’s future? Like, pretty please?”
NO. He said, “Please come and put your hands on my daughter so that she will be healed and live.”
Let’s stop living with our Woe is Me, why hasn’t He, when will He, if He’d only thinking! And starting living with This is already His Victory! It will be! Healing will come!
Y’all, we have no idea what healing and freedom and victory will look like. We don’t. But I would much rather live my life wholeheartedly committed to Him, counting even suffering as joy, waiting, expecting, watching for the miracles. For the victory He has already won. Grateful for every moment.
It is finished, y’all. Even this.
Allow gratitude, gratitude rooted in Him, to transform your Woe is Me to This is ALREADY His victory.