Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving

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!”

13 comments:

Laurin said...

Angie, I love it: "...that means that whatever the future holds, I will not be destroyed..." What hope you have! What hope I have! Isn't it amazing that we are more than conquerors through Him Who LOVES us?! You remind me so often of what a conqueror looks like. Shame of any Christian to look at any situation and say: "How can she endure that...How can I endure this?" Oh, but yes, so much easier to write and to say than to endure the big "that" or "this". Nonetheless, Happy Thanksgiving! To God be the glory!

Fresh Girl said...

Praise God who lifts us up and sustains us through the most trying of times and who has given you such a spirit of joy and thankfulness. I pray you and your entire family will have a wonderful Thanksgiving, praising God and thanking Him for precious Poppy and what her life will accomplish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Angie, Just want to tell you that the photographs on "Pictures and Puffs" are beautiful. What a beautiful family is represented through them. Marianna is georgous and I love the color of her hair and her beautiful little face.

I come to your and Nathan's blog often. Each time I visit here, I am so encouraged and so amazed, that through your words the Lord has much to say to me.

With Poppy Joy's birth drawing near I have been thinking that you and Nathan must have so much going on within yourselves. Hope, Anxiety, Fear maybe. Maybe not. I just pray and hope that in spite of what is going on with your pregnancy and Poppy, that you and your family can have a wonderful Thanksgiving, just enjoying each other and being thankful for what you have now and the memories of what you once experienced and the hope of what is to come.

Please know that I am on my knees for you all.

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Happy Thanksgiving to You All

Darlene in FL

Rick said...

Angie and Nathan,
As I woke up this morning, my mind racing,thinking of so many things, I was led to see how you guys were doing.

I was hoping to lend some words of encouragement and comfort, but instead I was the one who was encouraged.

You see today we received Melanie's certificate of death. And as I scanned the entries: "Never Married", "No Surviving spouse", "Never Worked", etc. I thought for a moment about her life.

It seemed her life was filled with so many "nevers", and for most of her almost 37 years, her days were filled with suffering. But I also thought about how her life had so dramatically changed our life and the life of our family. It caused us to seek the Lord in ways that we never would have. It caused us to be thankful for many things we would have taken for granted. I also learned that God had touched so many lives through her that I was not even aware of.

It occurred to me that the life of Poppy Joy has already had an impact on so many. In some ways we will not know about till eternity.

Just reading your testimony about thanksgiving in the midst of trials was a great blessing and encouragement to me.

Poppy joy has made my thanksgiving more blessed and meaningful.

God Bless you guys.

Jana said...

Angie, you and Nathan remind me, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day, that I have so many things to be thankful for. I am so thankful to have such a precious brother, such a precious sister-in-law and such a precious niece. you are a daily testimony to me, and I am so thankful that you are are a part of my life.

Happy Thanksgiving w/ much much much love.

Jessica said...

Angie,
Thank you for being so open and candid about your feelings of the circumstances. You truly do have much to be thankful for. The legacy you have been left is something I try to imagine, but can only glean a little from, as Dr. Rogers was my pastor for 25 years. I often wonder what your growing up years were like. You have a wonderful foundation set for you, and I know you will hold on to your faith, even through the DARKEST of nights to come, and choose the way the Lord wants you to choose, and praise Him through your circumstance. I love Romans 12:12, that you had on your site for a while, and it has helped me put a lot into perspective. I hope to see you soon. Tim's visit has been great, but has thrown us off schedule a lot. He leaves Monday :(
I will still be praying for you and the family.

Jessica

jeweljannie said...

Angie,
I know that this story is so familiar to you because you and I memorized it during that most difficult time in our lives. You were just 7 or 8. It is one of the best things that we ever memorized, and I draw strength from this great story all the time.
And I'm sure you remember the very end of the story. "They were 3 days collecting the spoils of war because there was so much."
What Satan meant as a horrible tragedy to rob them of their inheritance, God turned around. Instead, it was Satan ( the enemy_) who was robbed . The enemy came in with far less than they started with.
What Satan means for evil and destruction in your life, will instead be used as a lethal tool against him.
Remember Papa's points that he said about the battle:
Praise infuses the energies of God and .....
Praise confuses the enemies of God.

I love that , and I love you! Mom

Laurie said...

Dear Angie and Nathan & Marianna,

You are such a blessing to me as I read your words today and every time you write. I pray that your cup overflows with joy today as you celebrate with your families and count your blessings. As you look around today at all the loving people you are with, may you rest in knowing they will be lifting you up to the Lord during and after Poppy Joys birthday, just a touch away when you need them the most. Your faith is beautiful and I feel it across the miles. God bless your day with everything good.

Love, Laurie in Ca.

Emily said...

Amen, sister. Amen and amen and amen. Praise Him.

We praise you, Father, for sending miracles in the form of seemingly broken babies. We know with all our hearts that these children are fearfully and wonderfully made and our hearts cry out to you in praise for sharing them with us. Oh God, I ask that you continue to knit Miss Poppy together just as you knew you would and that you keep lifting her mother's chin, that her eyes' gaze may not drop from your own. Praise you, Father.

Anonymous said...

hey ang,
it is always encouraging to read your posts both b/c i am encouraged for you and what you express speaks to my own heart, my own life, reminding me of God's faithfulness and my need for Him. Hope ya'll had a lovely thanksgiving. i will see yall when i get back to town,
love
anna

Devin said...

Very well said. As usual, you are an inspiration.

Brandi's Mom said...

Angie - you are a truly amazing woman of God. Please know that I pray for your family daily; for God to work a miracle for your sweet Poppy and for HIM to hold you, Nathan and Marianna is his arms and continue to give you strength, courage, wisdom and peace. As Poppy's birthday draws near, I will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Micah said...

i'm glad you posted these thoughts. as my call home proved the other day, i'm not having an easy time right now, and fear is one emotion that seems to rule all others for me these days. thanks, angie. i want to apply some of these principles to my own situations right now. i'm glad i'll be with you guys soon.