It is New Year's Eve. I am alone except for She Who Hides Under The Bed. It is a crisp, frosty night, turning your breath into little puffs of white vapor. I've just been blessed with a guest speaker at our church, talking about prophecy and how very many have been fulfilled in the last 60+ years, starting with the regathering of Israel.
The New Year will begin soon, and only God knows what it will contain. This year will unfold more prophecies, more events foretold by His faithful ones thousands of years ago. It is astonishing to realize that how many prophecies have been fulfilled in my lifetime! Even more astonishing is that He has chosen me to be His child, and has sworn Himself to be my Father. What a gift!
But then, our God is a generous Giver.
He has given us so much - life to begin with, and then Life if we have asked Him to enter in. Everything about God is rich with giving.
In His Word, the word "give" and its derivatives occurs roughly 2100 times. (statistics from Acts & Facts, the magazine of the Institute for Creation Research)
It is interesting that the first occurrence is when He created the great lights in the heavens to give light upon the earth (Gen 1:15) as God Himself is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. How fitting it is that this season is heralded by light - dancing on rooftops and outlining every bush.
The last mention of giving is in Rev22:12 - from Genesis to Revelation, God is a giver.
The greatest mention of giving is, of course, in John 3:16: "for God so loved..."
That pretty much sums up our God doesn't it? For God so loved us all that He is ready and willing to give us Light whenever we need it. He gave us the greatest Light of all time and eternity in His Son, and through that one act of giving bought our freedom from the darkness of the slavery we had been sold into by Adam.
And each day He gives us the grace needed to deal with whatever He has allowed into our lives - and that includes CI.
Thinking of CI as a gift of God to be thankful for ...well... it's a bit difficult sometimes. But nevertheless, it's true - everything that touches me He has ordained. It is not some cosmic mistake that I am ill, it is a chosen path He has presented me with, a path that will last as long as He wills it. And looking back over the last 24 years, I can see some of the blessings, and can honestly say there are many things about it that I am thankful for.
Primarily, it has taught me that He knows, and He is able. Those two things enable me to leave the details in His hands. He knows each day what He has chosen for me, and He is able to keep me safe through it.
Sometimes though, His opinion of "safe" and mine differ a bit. That's when the fear sends me flying to His lap, choosing to worship where I don't understand.
Don't misunderstand me - I do not burble happily through each bout of pain or whistle a happy tune through the fear. There have been days lately where my main prayer has been not to pass out from the pain - a severe bout of sciatic nerve pain has begun and I dearly hope it will soon be concluded! It's hard to understand the whys and wherefores - but God has never promised to explain Himself to me. He is the Creator, I am His creature - and I have no right to demand explanations. He wants me to trust Him, and I have no doubts whatsoever of His worthiness, His faithfulness, or any of the other things that make Him a trustworthy person.
And so I set my face like flint and I trust Him. Sometimes, I confess, through gritted teeth. And when I can, I thank Him - for many things, my illness among them. I trust there is a reason for the pain and the darkness and the fear. And I can see that each time I trust Him through some difficulty, I learn something new about Him, His love, His ways.
A friend introduced me to the concept of having a single word be the focus of a year (or week or a month - whatever you choose)
And so, for the coming year, I have chosen the word "teachable".
I want my spirit to be open to what He has for me - whether it's a bend in the road of my CI, a formal class opportunity, a new path, new lessons wherever they are. Perhaps a new way of journaling, combining my art with my writing - I don't know. Whatever it is, I want my heart to be open to it. I want to concentrate on hearing His voice, doing His will, being what He would choose for me to be - and rejoicing in it, even in the midst of discomfort. I want more of Him and less of me, more being able to say "Ahhhh! THAT'S what He meant!" More worship. More prayer. Less murmuring, less letting pain win.
When this time comes around next year, I want to be able to say, "thank you for using my illness to teach me things I could have learned no other way.
"What an awesome Gift it has been."