November always brings gratitude to the forefront of my mind in anticipation of Thanksgiving. I recently learned something about gratitude from an unlikely source: Job.
Job is famous for the depth of losses he experienced: he lost all his livestock (symbols of wealth and his ability to earn a living) and all ten of his children within a single day. When I consider enduring such loss, I feel my knees buckling at the mere thought.
Most of the book of Job is comprised of dialog between Job and his well-intentioned-but-hurtful friends. In the end (spoiler alert), we are left without direct answers to the question of suffering and are to be consoled with the truth that God is both mysterious and powerful.
“I think you might have helped me decide not to adopt.”
She was worried that I’d be dismayed at her words, thinking I wanted everyone to adopt. I had just delivered a fairly candid, vulnerable message to a group of women on the topic of adoption. In our conversation afterward, I reassured her of what I’ve long held to be true:
[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”@kirsten828″ suffix=”#adoption”]Not everyone is called to adopt. But every child deserves a family. [/inlinetweet]
Everyone can do something to help orphans. And I do wish everyone would. I base my opinion on God’s adoption of us into His family (Ephesians 1:5), and the exhortation in James 1:27 that we show pure and blameless religion by looking after orphans (and widows).
For some of us, prayer comes naturally. For others, less so.
I’ve got friends who make it through the entire Bible every year, but find prayer laborious. I confess, it’s not the best side of my spiritual life, either. My daughter recently expressed the same struggle: she said she didn’t feel close to God, probably because she’d stopped praying because it didn’t feel easy or comfortable. She was waiting to “want to” before she did. Before anyone gasps with horror, let’s acknowledge that we all have different “bents” in the spiritual disciplines. After all, I’ve got friends who would happily pray for hours, but rebel at the thought of reading their Bibles.
I was afraid.
In May I shared with you my diagnosis of skin cancer and my fears around the location and removal of it. My surgery was July 14th and I’m now on the mend. Not surprisingly, I’ve learned a few things during the last 10+ days of recovery. Spare yourself the skin cancer surgery and just learn these nuggets vicariously through me, okay?
Do you have a perfect friend?
Perhaps you readily answered that with a ‘no’ because you’re keenly aware of their flaws, or just recognize that we’re all imperfect. Or perhaps you’re inventorying the list of people in your life that have the appearance of perfection in their ability to manage many tasks, maintain a trim, athletic figure, and exude the social graces… continuously, of course.
This week, in particular, I was blessed by several friends. They listened intently to my pain, eager to share the burden. They cast no judgement, yet willingly spoke truth, because they love me. They will continue to pray for, and with, me. My time with them leaves me feeling affirmed and spurred on to run the race marked out for me (Hebrews 12:1). Afterwards, I specifically thanked God, recognizing them each as a gift in my life.
Count it all joy, my brothers when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
— James 1:2-4 ESV
“…let steadfastness have its full effect.” That little three-letter word ‘let’ startled me in this verse. It sounded so… passive. In a sense, I liked that because it evoked a picture in my mind of being wholly submitted, as if laid on the altar.