I know, I know! How well I know! It can be difficult to imagine that life with chronic illness is beautiful. Those of you living the life, you understand what I’m saying. Those who aren’t, well, I’ll spare you the sometimes ugly details! Suffice to say that secular society’s idea of beauty isn’t exactly what I’m referring to when I say, “Yes, there are beautiful things about life with chronic illness.”
The beauty within a life of health challenges goes far beyond the superficial, all the way down to the core of the word that is both simple and profound: life. The mysterious existence we have despite physical impediments that otherwise should make us curl up into a ball, the lovely moments when we put our face to the window and see the world outside, the way God’s handiwork is visible everywhere. These and other things are the beautiful aspects to our lives -yes, they are! And the more we appreciate them, and the other seemingly small things – an uplifting chat from friends, a mountain moved by a stranger (say, when we’re hoping for an earlier doc appointment). God’s grace that lifts us up when we’re most down. Yes, these things are beautiful, no matter who we appear physically.
Yes, life with illness is hard and demanding. Yes, it brings pain and loss and obstacles when we least have the energy to surmount them.
But, the beautiful thing about life is that it is a gift, from God, and that it dwells and is in us. And with it, we can enjoy the blessings that come, yes, with living and walking in faith.
For many people, this winter has been brutal. Snow, ice, and, especially, frigid temperatures. Many people have been without power, help to clear mountains of snow, and low on food and other supplies.
As we think about spring, we think about warmth – inside and out. And one of the ways we can start to “thaw out” is to dust off the bright, sunny core of our character and let it start to motivate us toward a beautiful time ahead.
Yes, perhaps being cooped up indoors has cut you off from friends or neighbors. Thaw out – reach out!
Maybe you started but did not finish one or more indoor projects, even beloved work on hobbies, because lethargy set in. Thaw out – work out!
And maybe you became spiritually discouraged as the darker days and frigid nights held nothing but the same old, same old for what seemed like and eternity. Thaw out – praise out!
Spring is coming, and so is the spring thaw! And you can get it started even earlier, right there in your own heart and home!
Joy and peace,
We can learn much, when we cultivate silence. It might seem counter-intuitive; our learning usually takes the form of words or pictures or sounds, tangible things that have size, depth, tone, and space.
But beyond all of those things that we can feel is something more profound – it is what you hear in silence. And you can only hear it if you nurture the silence from which it springs.
Very different from prayer, which is a communication with God, and very different from many forms of meditation, which might focus on an idea or image, smell or sound, resting in silence is hard, but helpful. It is telling, but tacit.
It might take a bit to get used to shooing away all the other clutter in your mind’s ears and eyes to get to that silence. But it is worth it.
What you hear in the silence will bring you closer to God.
Image courtesy of dexchao/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
What if all of your prayers today were of thanksgiving and appreciation? What if, instead of a laundry list of petitions or a few moments spent in distracted longing for relief, wealth, power, or just simple human understanding, you focused instead on all of the gifts you have been given and all of the bounty placed in the world by God?
We don’t live in a very thank-filled world. Oh, yes, we have plenty of outlets to express our thanks to people for gifts or thoughtfulness. Those cards can prompt a smile or, even, a tear, when given from the heart. But often, that’s where our gratitude rests. That’s where our appreciation ends – and we move on to the next thank-giving moment.
Today, however, I challenge us all to put aside everything else except gratitude in God. Gratitude for His power and might. Gratitude for our lives and world. Gratitude for the gift of His Son Jesus Christ.
Gratitude for our ability to pray, worship, and live in faith.
I have a feeling that if we sweep away our stilted gratitude with abundant thanks and appreciation, we will feel different. Uplifted. Cleansed. And clear-eyed enough to see even more things about which we can lift up a loud, hearty, “Thank you, God!”