Sunday, October 28, 2007

God's will for me

So many times I have heard Christians lament, "I just don't know what God's will is for my life." I have even said it myself. I guess we are not familiar with His Word, because it is abundantly clear what His will is: " Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" ( I Thessalonians 5:16-18, bolding mine).

So what is God's will again? Simple: be joyful, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.

How do we break that down though? I think they are all intertwined.

Be joyful.

Notice it doesn't say feel joyful, it says be joyful. This means to me that it is an act of will. I will get up this morning and choose joy. I will paste a smile on my face until it transforms my heart. Studies show that laughter actually makes you healthier (something that is not a surprise to God - see Proverbs 17:22). Choosing joy and choosing to laugh makes you feel better. A cheerful countenance makes you feel good. Then you smile even more. And then you feel even better. What a great cycle!

Give thanks in all circumstances.

Yes, I'm going out of order here, but there is a reason. This one has really been put to the test for me lately. As many of you know, we welcomed a lovely little boy to our household on August 24th. I had a history of two natural deliveries and two cesarean sections. I desperately wanted to have another natural birth. I saw a midwife and hired a wonderful doula to help me. I read stories about vaginal birth after cesarean and saw a chiropractor to improve his positioning. And in the end, my blood pressure shot through the roof and I ended up on the operating table again.

I was mad. I did not want another surgical birth. I wanted to pull my baby up onto my tummy and nurse immediately. I wanted our birth to be an intimate experience with as few in attendance as possible, not a show attended by 15+ hospital staff. And I did not want to go through the post-op pain of another major abdominal surgery. The more I dwelt on what I did NOT get, birthwise, the angrier I became. And the angrier I became, the more depressed and irritable I was. It got to the point where I felt physically sick to my stomach whenever I thought about Gabe's birth.

And then, as I was praying last week, I was reminded of this verse. God's will for my life is that I would be thankful in all circumstances. I began to think of all to good things that surrounded Gabe's birth.

First off, I am thankful for Gabriel himself. He is a gorgeous, sweet and easy going baby. His siblings are over the moon for him. He nurses like a champ and is getting so chubby and adorable.

I am grateful that my midwife and Philip were in the operating room the entire time. My hands were not tied down and I got to touch Gabriel right after he was delivered. I have video and film of the actual delivery. Gabe went with me to recovery and nursed immediately after I was finished being sewn up.

One bad spot in the delivery was when there was a mix up on the doctor's orders and I did not have pain medicine ordered post-op. After about 2 hours of crying hysterically, the situation was rectified and I was given pain medicine. But even this screw up gives me opportunity for thanks. Thank God there was eventual relief of the pain. Thank God we live in a country where medicine is available and the surgery was available.

My doula pointed out that there is a difference between disappointment and regret. I do not regret having a c-section. I believe it saved my life and Gabe's life. I am disappointed that I did not get the natural delivery that I wanted, but I can still choose thankfulness. And as I choose to reflect on the good and be thankful for God's providence, the disappointment is healing. As I embrace His way of thankfulness, He is healing my heart.

Pray continually.

I think the key to being joyful and giving thanks is praying continuously. In my own strength I am inadequate for joy and thankfulness. I have this fleshy bit in my me that wants to rise up and pout. I want things my way, and I want them now! But God has provided a way out for me. If I can lean on Him, I can escape my tendency towards ungratefulness and sullenness. He knows my heart. It is not news to Him when I tell Him that I cannot do it and ask for help. And day by day, minute by minute, I must ask if I am to win this battle. His mercies are new each day and His strength is sufficient.

So, pray with me today. Say, "Lord, help me to choose Your way of thankfulness and joy." Then suck it up, smile and choose to be grateful for all circumstances. Because this is God's will for you.