When we’re in the middle of tough times, often we can only think about the basics needed for each day or even to get through the next hour. It can be hard to give thought to being grateful when we’re simply trying to survive.
But, when storms pass and we have time to look back and remember, we can often find blessings in the battles. Then we can be grateful to God who has sustained and provided what we need at just the right time.
Here are three habits we should cultivate so we can see God at work meeting our needs in the middle of difficult times, and can be grateful to him, especially when life has calmed down
Keep talking to God
One of my greatest fears and dreads living across the ocean, three thousand miles away from my parents was what if something happened to them and I couldn’t get back in time. Often when these fears wracked my mind, usually unexpectedly when I was doing something else or in the middle of the night, I would turn my thoughts heavenward, bringing my worries to God, hoping that my heavenly Father in his love and concern would understand.
Usually our fears are unfounded, but one day this fear came true.
My sister-in-law called me from England to tell me my mother had been given only a few weeks to live. Previously diagnosed with and treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there was nothing more the doctors could do.
With three young children at home in the USA, I couldn’t just leave immediately to be with Mum. In the middle of the stress and sorrow of losing a loved one, I had to decide when was the best time to visit. I picked a time to go and spent ten days with my mother caring for her needs. She passed away the day after I returned to the USA.
Looking back, I can see that God had listened to my worries and fears. He had worked out the details so I could look back and be grateful. In the middle of sadness, I am thankful for the precious time I got to spend with my mother during the last days of her life.
Turning to and talking to God about your worries and your fears helps you see his provision and his blessings in the battles.
What are you worried about at the moment? Turn your thoughts to God and follow these instructions from Philippians 4:6 in The Message Bible:
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.
Keep living in God’s Word
My Dad didn’t do so well after my mother died. He went downhill very quickly. One year later, my brother called me, evening time in the USA, to tell me that my dad had passed away that night in England.
“I will be a Father to you” (2 Corinthians 6:18) were the words on my daily tear-off scripture calendar the next morning. I kept the calendar on my bedside cabinet to make sure that I “listened” to God each morning when I woke.
My heavenly Father reminded me that I wasn’t an orphan, I was his child. I was and am so grateful for his words.
Grounding your life in God’s words, listening for what says to help you get through each day, and to know his love and goodness, doesn’t have to be complicated.
What are you doing, or can you do, to make sure you are not missing God’s blessings in the battles? Perhaps reading one verse each morning is all you have time for, but it can be enough for God to speak to you.
Let’s keep our ears turned towards him and wait expectantly to receive words from him that will meet our needs because as Philippians 4:19 says:
You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus..
Keep close to God’s family
One year later after my father died and two years after my mother passed away, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My husband was traveling with work and on the opposite side of the United States when I got the news.
With no family close by, I turned to my spiritual family. I called the women’s prayer leader from our church who immediately went into action. Not only did I know she was praying for me, but she called our Pastor of Women, herself a breast cancer survivor who helped me get through the next few hours and the days ahead.
I am so grateful for these women who became the hands and feet of Jesus at my time of need.
Do you have people of faith in your life who can be a support for you? Or perhaps you can be a support to someone and as Galatians 6:10 says:
Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
The battles are hard but when we come through them, we must look for God’s blessings however small they may seem. They give us strength for the future battles we will face.
What blessings has God given you in your battles?