grace and gratitude...

I’ve been angry for a long time. For about a year to be exact. Angry and sad and scared and broken and confused and frustrated… and angry.

Angry at the unexpected, angry at things unnecessary, angry at broken dreams, angry at God. Angry at people who were supposed to be experts, angry at doctors who lied or didn’t care. Angry at friends and family who made me feel crazy. Angry at Christians for wanting me to get it together.

Angry at not being able to help my son. Angry that I thought God didn’t plan for Christians to have special needs children. Angry at those who seemed to have it so easy with their children. Angry that God had “blessed” others and not our family. Angry at those who gave up on me.

Angry that my child has had to hurt/suffer. Angry that we don’t know what went wrong. Angry that we don’t know how to prevent it from happening again. Angry that I felt God didn’t want me to be a mother.

Just. so. angry.

A year later, that anger is gone.

There are days that I am aware of the hurt that still clings to my heart in subtle ways. I still cry, but instead of every day, it is only once or twice a week.

But the anger has been replaced. I no longer go through almost every day focusing on the “what if’s,” the “why’s,” the “how’s,” the “what happened’s,” the “why me’s” and the “why them’s.”

What has replaced the anger? There are 2 things: Grace and gratitude.

The Grace of God. And gratitude, for what He has done and for what we have that could have been taken away.

I no longer look at Stephen and think if only he would/could eat, life would be great. I no longer see the problem. I see beauty, through God’s eyes. I see the gorgeous, beautiful, happy baby boy that I dreamed of when I was pregnant. I no longer see what he isn’t, but what he is. I no longer see what he can’t do, but what he can do. I see a child that is an absolute miracle, who, if but for the Grace of God, might not be here.

There are 10,000,000 other things that could have gone wrong. There are 10,000,000 other problems/issues he could have. When he was choking and turning blue, he could have died. When he stopped eating and stopped gaining weight, he could have starved. When doctors dismissed him, he could have gotten even more behind developmentally.

But he didn’t and he’s not, because of God’s Grace. And I am so unbelievably THANKFUL.

The more I get on my knees, the more I read God’s Word, the more I hear God speaking through gracious loving people, the more time I spend in His presence, and the more I focus on giving to others in need, the more I am filled with this gratitude because of His Grace.

I’ve literally felt like I’ve lived in a deep dark hole for months, a hole that was filled with anger, and then desperation from trying to get out myself. By my own stupidity, I wasn’t going to get out of that hole until God decided that I wanted Him to help me get out. He kept offering His hand, kept saying He’d pull me out, but I kept refusing because I had a “right” to be angry. I had fallen, down, down, down, so far down that I didn’t have any more strength to try and get back up.

But because of God’s Grace, I’m not in that hole anymore. I’m not even on flat ground. I’m slowly trekking up the mountain, and I’m bringing my precious little boy with me. And we are going to get to the top, by the Grace of God. And I am ridiculously full of GRATITUDE. More gratitude than anyone could understand. And there is an overwhelming sense of HOPE that I’ve been given that was wiped out.

God’s Words says that Jesus never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5-6). That we can find Hope in Him, Hope that is real (Romans 15:13). That He knows us inside and out and searches our hearts (Psalm 139).

God says that we have been bought at a price through Christ’s death (1 Corinthians 7:23), and He knows every hair on our head (Matthew 10:30). That He is the one who gives and takes away (Job 1:21). That He forms life in the womb in every detail (Psalm 139:13), and He has a future and a plan for each of us (Jeremiah 29:11).

God’s Word says that we cannot understand all the ways of God as fallible man (Ecclesiastes 11:5), yet He will lead us on a straight path if we put our trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The Lord tells us that we must walk by faith, and not by what we see (2 Corinthians 5:7). He promises us that if we come to Him in prayer, with thanksgiving, He will calm our anxious hearts (Philippians 4:6). And He says that when we can’t comprehend what’s going on, we can still have complete peace (Philippians 4:7).

Jesus wants for us to realize that if he cares for a tiny sparrow, providing food and shelter, He will care for us 1,000 times more (Matthew 6:26). God tells us to seek Him first, and everything else will somehow come together (Matthew 6:33). He tells us not to worry about tomorrow, to take it one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).

Jesus said He came so that we could have life that was abundant (John 10:10), and that by His own stripes, there is healing (Isaiah 53:5). He says that what the world considers to be blessings are actually total opposite of His idea of blessings (Matthew 5).

Jesus said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, that we can move (or climb) mountains (Matthew 17:20). That if we just trust Him, TRUST HIM, we can walk on water (Matthew 14) and do great works in His name (John 14:12).

My heart is so full these days, because it is full of gratitude for the Grace of God. Even though life is not the same as it used to be and it’s nothing like what others might consider normal, it is a life that God is working on, working in, and working through.

I know I have a long way to go still to get to where I need to be. But, every day that I wake up, I say thank you God, thank you for your Grace, thank you for my sweet Stephen who I know, without You, may not be in my life. Every night when I go to bed, I am thankful, even if the day has been hard or frustrating.

God keeps pouring out heaps of mercy and Grace on us. We don’t deserve it; I don’t deserve it. But for the first time in a long, long time, I am truly, utterly full of gratitude.


PeeJumpty said...

Hi friend. I've hated that you've had to go through these dark days. Praise God for the work he's done on your heart. :-) It is beautiful. Your words reminded me of this past week's sermon on embracing suffering:

The part of it that stood out to me most was the beauty of 2 Cor. 4:6-12. We have the treasure of the glory of God in our weak, bodies that are like clay jars. God's glory shines through our suffering. The question that stood out to me was - "Will I accept suffering as a part of God's plan in my life?" Ouch! (Can't say I'm ready to say yes.) And: "Stop measuring blessing by pleasure." :-)


Emma said...

Sara, I have been keeping up with you and your family through your blog. I have no clue how hard it must be to be going through difficulties with feeding for Stephen. I just wanted to tell you we are thinking about/praying for your family. I also wanted to recommend a book that I am in the process of reading and going through it with a group: One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She writes of her struggles with being angry at God and turning it into gratitude. I can empathize with a lot of what she says. Hope all else is going well. Love in Christ, Emma (Heatherly) Loyless.

Sara said...

Phoebe, thanks so much. :) I will have to listen to that sermon. It's hard to imagine blessings that aren't pleasurable, but that's exactly what Jesus taught in the sermon on the Mount. Suffering is not easy, and I don't know many Christians who welcome it with open arms, haha. But there comes a point when you can either fight God on whatever it is you're going through, or just accept it and allow God to work. For me it's a blind acceptance and trust because I don't understand. There are still days I want to fight, but then God says, 'Hey, I'm on YOUR side." I tend to forget that. ;) HUGS to you too!!!

Sara said...

Hey Emma,

Thank you for commenting! :) I hope you're doing well!! Thanks so much for praying, it means more than you know, that my little guy is so loved by people. I actually finished the Voskamp book about a month ago. A friend sent it to me while I was in Dallas with Stephen during the Baylor Feeding Program. I read the first chapter and put it down. I didn't start reading it seriously until much later because it was just too much at first. :( But I truly loved it, and it helped me so much. I started making my own list of things to be thankful for. I think I'm in the 500's still, but each day brings something I can find to thank God for. There are hard days where I struggle to write down 1 thing. But I still thank God. It's been a long, rough road so far with Stephen's medical issues/special needs, but I've realized that I'd rather have Stephen with all of the heartache than not have him at all. Thanks again so much for commenting/praying. :)