Shannon Fabin from Church on the Hill in Waynesboro, VA wrote the following article that totally captured so much of what I’m experiencing spiritually right now. Amazing food for thought and reflection!
I’ve just had an “earthquake” in my life. You know, one of those life events that shakes you up and leaves you a different person than you were before. (We, in Virginia, have also had a literal earthquake recently and that shook me up as well!) I’ve just lost a good friend, the husband of my closest friend, in a very unexpected way. At 41, he suffered a massive heart attack and met Jesus, leaving behind a wife, 2 young daughters, and shattered pieces of a life cut short.
At the same time, I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts.” In this book, Voskamp challenges the reader to examine their life in its totality and find things-one thousand things-to start to be thankful for. Reading a book on thankfulness in all seasons of life while walking through this earthquake season has made for an interesting juxtaposition of emotions in my heart and mind.
As I have processed through the death of my friend, I have so frequently thought of Voskamp’s challenge to live life with a heart of thankfulness. How can I do that in the light of such a significant loss? How can YOU do that when the rigor of ministry, the lack of growth and change, the constant barrage of needs, the onslaught of negativism from the world is constantly in your face and on your mind?
The verse that has been continually brought to mind in this season is John 10:10. It’s a verse we all know, but I wonder how many of us allow it to change our perspective on earthquake events, or even minor frustrations? “The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (NLT) As I have walked out this season, I am realizing that in life and in ministry Satan so desires to steal our joy, kill our heart of thankfulness, and destroy the God-given dreams and callings within us. Life is difficult. Ministry is not an easy calling. We will constantly be confronted with frustrations, disappointments, irritations and challenges. But, in spite of all this, Scripture tells me that the heart of my Father is that my life be rich and satisfying. When my eyes are focused on all that I do have, when my heart is turned towards His gifts, when my perspective is stayed on the eternal, then I can and will live a rich and satisfying life. I will live this life not because of the external circumstances of my life, but because of the internal peace, joy and hope that are mine in Christ.
As I walk through my own difficult season and stand alongside my broken friend, I will CHOOSE thankfulness. I will stand firm and not allow the Thief to steal what is rightfully mine as a Child of God. I would encourage you to do the same. When we know Whose we are, when we stick close to the Giver of all good things, when our focus never leaves Him, then thankfulness, joy, peace…all the Fruit of the Spirit can and will be ours in abundance.