Giving Thanks Despite the Pain

psalm 9-1

It all started like this:

One can of those Pillsbury rolls, the kind where you have to pop the seal and you jump 2 feet in the air in surprise when you open them. .

Plus:

One bare foot.

Plus:

One sleepy mom on a Sunday morning.

Equals:

A can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls slamming down onto that bare foot causing that sleepy mom a great deal of pain.

I limped around most of Sunday and finally eased my foot out of my shoe Sunday evening (after finally giving up on the pain just going away.)

My big toe was swollen and green (yes, green).

Nice.  I guess I broke my toe or something along those medical lines.

And, when you move around doing a lot of stuff (as a mom with four kids does), it turns out you kind of need your big toe not to be throbbing with excruciating pain.

Who knew?

I’ve been celebrating the tiny stages of recovery this week. Sure, my foot has changed a few colors, but it hurts less.

Yesterday I could move my toe and wear a regular pair of shoes again.

But now, since I’ve been walking funny for four days, I’ve noticed aches in my leg and other toes.

They are a reminder that something isn’t doing it’s job in my body and other parts are compensating.

This tiny bit of brokenness, this irritating ache has me aware.

I’m aware of my toe’s value, of everything I’ve taken for granted and all that it normally does for me.

I’m aware of what I actually need to do and what I can let go of for a while until I’m walking again without the limp.

And, I’m aware of tiny graces and the mercies I might otherwise overlook.

I remember the moment I realized my toe wasn’t going to simply sting for a few minutes and then feel better.

“Great,” I thought, “I have to do Children’s Church today!  Tomorrow, I start a week with a whole lot of driving and times when I’ll be working with kids and moving all around.  This is really bad timing.”

That’s true, of course.  My week would have been easier without a foot injury.

But I’ve been okay.

Sometimes we can work ourselves up into despair.  The one thing we pray won’t happen (of course) happens. We can’t ever see it getting better.  The timing is awful.  The provision is scarce.

And all that might very well be true.

Even then, though, even in the worst…or the uncomfortable, the painful, the unwanted, the heartbreaking, and the disappointing. He can transform the “worst thing” into a “God thing” with whispers of His grace, hints of His love, and reminders of His presence.

It’s like getting a thank you card just when you felt overlooked.

Or your two-year-old son not having a tantrum during that important meeting even though he missed his nap today.

It’s getting unexpected provision when you felt overwhelmed by one extra expense too many this month.

It’s God’s comfort and strength as you mourn.

It’s making it through the week with an aching toe and it all working out just fine even when you didn’t think it could.

I’ve been praying so much this year–for others, for my family–for big miracles, for visible deliverance, for undeniable healing, for rescue and provision.

But I also want to be aware of the daily blessings, the brushes with grace, the tender mercies.

I want to remember the way God sometimes doesn’t deliver me from difficult circumstances or disappointment or hurt.  But He does deliver me through. 

The Psalmist wrote:

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1 ESV)

ALL His wonderful deeds–not just the grand ones.

Timothy Keller says,

“We must discern God’s ‘wonderful deeds’ in our lives, a phrase that can refer to dramatic miracles like the parting of the Red Sea. However, we must also learn to see the more subtle ways God comforts us just when we were ready to give up, or brings the right friend or book or line of thinking into our lives just when we needed it” (The Songs of Jesus).

God didn’t keep that cinnamon roll can from hitting my toe.  He didn’t miraculously heal my foot after I’d hurt it.

Those would have been wonderful.

But He’s helping me make it through, and that’s wonderful, too.

He’s changing my focus from the worst, the disappointment, the hurt and the stress to His comfort and help just when I need it.

And I give Him thanks with all my heart.

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