Sometimes God chooses unlikely ways to remind us we have a lot to be thankful for, doesn't He?
Let me explain.
After running an early morning errand I stopped a local restaurant and got jolted out of my private little pity party. (It wasn't much fun, anyway.)
The hostess seated me in a booth next to two men in another booth.
I couldn't help overhearing most of what they said and once the gentleman behind me started talking I lost all interest in my morning newspaper.
"I have one brother and he's the only family I have left. When the police arrested him and his wife for dealing drugs they took his three children out of the house and turned them over to Child Welfare.
"I lived in another city and knew nothing of this.
"Child Welfare called me and said the kids would go into foster care unless my wife and I took them. Those poor kids were scared and had been there for the police raid. Now we were their only hope. My wife and I agonized and prayed over it, then we said Yes.
"Eventually my brother and his wife were convicted of running a drug ring and both got long prison sentences.
"It's been hard, hard, hard! My nephew adapted pretty well. One of my nieces internalizes her pain and is way too quiet for a 12-year old. Those two both call us Mom and Dad and really, that's what we are. We're the ones who are there and who love them, no matter what.
"The 15-year old still has nightmares and she's still angry. She has walled herself off against us and rebels in just about every way she can dream up. We're coming to think perhaps the only answer is some kind of full-time treatment for awhile, to help her heal.
"All I can say is, my wife and I have prayed and prayed and tried to pour out love, but we also have failed in a lot of ways. God has brought us this far and we trust Him for the future.
"But we've been blessed, too, because early in our marriage the doctors told us we never would have children of our own. So in spite of all the pain, we have joy and we know we did the right thing."
A change of heart
You won't be surprised to hear I walked out of that with a new perspective on my life and full of thanks and praise.
- Thanks for that man and his wife who opened their home and their hearts and changed the lives--and the future--of three hurting youngsters.
- Thanks to God for supplying the love and strength they need to give of themselves, day by day, and not count the cost.
- Thanks that they can see the blessings and joy hidden within their daily sacrifices.
Like that couple, let's search out the joy
The Apostle Paul well knew personal suffering but he also knew how to find joy. He sums up his secret in Philippians 4:
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Rejoice! . . . Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers (and sisters) whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things . . . And the God of peace will be with you.
(Selected from Phil. 4:4-9 NIV)
My friend, whatever your situation, I wish you joy-in-the-midst!