Thirty-eight years ago, on September 8, 1978, we had a stillborn little boy. He was born three months before his due date but died because the cord was wrapped across his chest and around his neck. We knew he would be stillborn because an ultrasound told us he had already died. Today, in such cases they let nature take its course and the baby will be born naturally in about two weeks. But at that time they induced labor immediately and it was a long, difficult 12-hour labor. Before it was over I began to think I would die too. But here we are, 38 years later and I'm still alive.
The grief and period of mourning that followed that baby's birth was not understood very well by others and I struggled for a year to accept what had happened. But eventually I worked through all that and came out on the other side to go on. Not long ago I heard someone say, "You have not fully accepted a situation until you can thank God for it." It took me a year to accept it but much longer until I could thank God for the experience, although I certainly never wished for a repeat.
Today I think about other disappointments I've had in my life and the lives of my children. Doesn't the Bible say, "In everything give thanks"? How can I thank God for hopes and dreams that were not fulfilled? For things that took a wrong turn along the way? Things that don't seem right or fair?
Look at that verse again. It doesn't say give thanks FOR everything, but IN everything. In the midst of disappointments and sorrow I can still thank and praise God because of who He is and because I trust Him. He understands what I don't and knows what He's doing. That doesn't mean I don't go to Him in prayer telling Him the desires of my heart. My asking is in itself an expression of faith and trust because I believe His power is unlimited and He can do the impossible in His time and in His way. My faith is not dependent on circumstances; it is dependent on God. I can still thank Him in the midst of every circumstance whether it's going the way I hoped or not.
"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17-18).