Teaching a lesson to Lucy, Aslan, the Christ figure in the C.S. Lewis story Prince Caspian says, “Why didn’t you come to me for help?” She responds, “I’m sorry, why didn’t you come in to save us like last time?” Aslan replies, “Things never happen the same way twice.”
Perhaps you’ve learned as I have that no matter how many times a new lesson pops up (or old ones resurface) – that nothing is exactly as before, and for me, I’m taken by surprise that God didn’t meet me with a like answer as He might have in the past.
Life requires making changes, dealing with new (or old) lessons and issues. Putting a stake in the ground for firm change, a new beginning or direction probably isn’t going to happen for those of us caring for a child or adult child with special needs – at least not in the way we expected or hoped. Change is slow, and often non-existent. Prayer can change things, and I do pray daily – and sometimes even out of desperation, but after many years, my son is still not healed. Sometimes the prayer was for our sons’ developmental progress, change in our circumstances, or ease in life. God’s answer came to me as a bit of a surprise. The answer was about the change my heart and attitude had to make. Psalm 138:8 tells me, “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me…” He knows us so well, that He answers just as is necessary for us.
He wants me to receive what He gives with an open hand, knowing it’s given out of love and concern for me. That’s how He teaches. And what have I learned? “…in everything give thanks” – I Thessalonians 5:18. We’re not asked to be thankful for all things; but “in everything give thanks.” Being thankful for war, divorce, disabilities, famine, personal struggles, etc. is a tough pill to swallow but we can give thanks in these trials when they come – learning from and growing in them.
When we give thanks, we allow character development. Often painful, we learn to give thanks for the learning process and the growth that takes place. In those personal struggles we learn to rely upon and trust in His provision rather than our own.
Developing an attitude of “in everything give thanks” simply takes practice. When we do – the surprise might be on us, as life starts to look like this:
- We can truly be happy for others when we don’t “get” what they were privileged to get (a child who can play soccer; a child who talks and walks; the freedom to travel, the ability to go out to dinner, a good marriage, a great job – fill in the blank that fits your situation…)
- We begin to show gratitude for the little things: thankful for little bits of progress we see in our child rather than just the end results, thankful for a nice job not the dream job (gratitude vs. expectancy)
- Our ability to invest in caring for other people will grow even when we don’t particularly feel cared for by others
- The habit of saying “thank you” – of “giving thanks” and of showing appreciation to others and to God will be developed
- Our attitude becomes gratitude
- It’s catchy – others begin to pick up on it!
Before we know it, we’ll be amazed at how much we’ve been given and how much we have to give to others! We’ll be amazed that He might not work the same way as He did before, but that the results will be new and exciting.