Today as I was about to leave the doctor’s office, my doctor told me that there is a lot to be thankful for this year. I was glad he said it. I feel like some people would shy away from saying something like that to us this year because of what is going on with Poppy, but I’m happy he understood what I am feeling and was willing to express that to me in words. To be completely honest, I have nothing but thankfulness to God pouring out of me as we approach tomorrow, and really, I’m a little surprised by that myself. The only explanation I can give is that I feel like God’s goodness has been lavished on me in a unique but undeniable way during the past months, with the result that, even in the midst of preparing for Him to allow Poppy to be taken away, I have been given a new perspective on just how much He has given me.
As I was thinking about Thanksgiving this morning, I sat down to read the story tucked away in II Chronicles 20 about King Jehoshaphat and the battle that God won for him against incredible odds. Thanksgiving and praise are synonymous in so many ways, and I can’t think of a more powerful Biblical example of the power of praise than this amazing story. To give a little context, King Jehoshaphat was facing an impending attack from numerous surrounding neighbors, and no pun intended, he didn’t have a fighting chance. Upon hearing the bad news the Bible says, “Jehoshaphat was afraid and turned his attention to seek the Lord.” I love that verse because it shows us immediately that Jehoshaphat wasn’t superhuman—he experienced the very natural first reaction of fear—yet he responded instantly by fixing his eyes on God. He goes on to gather all of the people together to fast and call upon God and ask for deliverance. He prays to God in front of all the assembled people, and he concludes by saying, “We are powerless before this great multitude that are coming against us; and we know not what to do, but our eyes are on You.” With their focus in the right place, the people of Judah march out the next day, not with spears or swords or any other weapons of war, but led by a group of worshippers who were singing and praising God exclaiming, “Give thanks to the Lord, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” In the face of what logistically was going to be a complete slaughter, the people of King Jehoshaphat praised God with all their hearts. Jehoshphat told them before they went out to “put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established.” He believed it even before He saw how God was planning on bringing about the miraculous deliverance. By the time the people of God reached the battlefield, all that awaited them were the corpses of the enemy.
This story strikes so many chords with me it’s hard to know where to begin. Right now we are on the brink of facing something that is over our heads and beyond our ability to control. The temptation to give into fear and despair is intense. But I know that God intends this to be a victory for Nathan and me in every aspect of the word. We really have no idea what to do, so just as Jehoshaphat prayed, our eyes are turned only to God. I know beyond any doubt that whatever “victory” is to be won is going to come from God and God alone. He may use a number of different instruments to bring about His purpose, but it will be His work. That is why I’m not really hoping in medical science or technology or anything else that the sophisticated hospital staff has to offer. I hope God will work through them and give them wisdom, but I don’t have any confidence that their efforts are going to save my child. I don’t even know if she will be saved at all. But what I do know is that God has promised that if I trust Him, I will be established. To me, that means that whatever the future holds, I will not be destroyed. I have zero doubt that it’s going to be hard and I will feel the winds beat me mercilessly, but this promise of hope from II Chronicles tells me that no matter how hard the winds pound at me, I will not be blown away. My roots will hold because God will not let what He has established be torn down.
So what does this all mean? I think it means that never in my life have I had a better reason to approach this Thanksgiving with overflowing praise to God. Tomorrow represents both Thanksgiving and the two-week marker of time remaining before Poppy’s birthday on December 6th, and in light of this, the story of Jehoshaphat shows me that what I am called to do is lock my eyes on Him and choose to praise Him for as this passage says “His lovingkindess is everlasting!”