Isn't it a wonder how often we find ourselves murmuring and complaining about our crosses and adversities in this life?! When we have so many blessings and graces to season such sufferings, it is truly a sad marvel that we choose only to see the losses and the lackings.
I've been thinking on this a lot lately and noticing the frequency with which I tend to notice and focus solely on a problem instead of a gracious provision from the Savior. I'm quick to tell God what isn't right in my life instead of what is.
Recently, I read an article that challenged me on this tendency and made me beg God's mercy for my ingratitude.
Jakson Follman was an aspiring soccer player who found himself as part of a Brazilian soccer team that was having a dream season. The team, Chapecoense de Futebol, was flying to an upcoming match two months ago when the plane carrying around 75 people crashed into a Columbian mountainside. 71 of the passengers were killed, including nearly every player and the coach. Seven survived the initial crash, but only six of them are alive to see recovery. Jakson is one of those six. He lost his leg as a result of the crash and has had to come to terms with his new life...a life, most likely, without competitive soccer. It's been a hard road for him and his fellow survivors of the crash. As the tragic news became known throughout the world, they have tried to begin the long road back...both in physical recovery but also as a team and organization. Support from other teams and fans around the world has given them hope. Physically, Jakson is making a comeback. Doctors tell him his progress has been remarkable for the short time since the crash, and he is learning to walk with a prosthetic leg.
But something Follman said regarding his emotional recovery caught my attention. He said that he has learned to let go of the anger he initially held toward those responsible for the crash, leaning on his faith to help him find forgiveness. He went on to recently tell The New York Times in an interview,
"It's not for me to stay stuck in a corner, sad and begging for my leg, or asking God why I lost my leg. God gave me life again."
He says that he's learned how to focus on the good things and turn his mindset around when he thinks about the accident. And I'm sure if we could ask him, he would agree that thankfulness is what has made the difference. While our trials may not require us to come to grips with losing a limb or dealing with the death of an entire team like Jakson, we can each learn a powerful lesson regarding the need for gratitude.
So often we choose to listen to the dishonesty of our feelings and question God why things happen. We choose to fight our sufferings and complain under our crosses in this life instead of finding a way to bless God. He is most honored when we choose thankfulness in the midst of the most dire of circumstances. This life was never promised to be easy. But we've so bought into the lie that we deserve to be perpetually happy that we repine sorely when adversity hangs hard on us. But how might it turn our attitude around if we instead decided to choose joy?!
This is where the Grace-journey becomes most hard yet fulfilling. It is about learning how to gaze into the uncertainties of life and still trust. It is about resolving to thank - no matter how difficult things get. It is about choosing to trust and daring to believe - even if the unpredictabilities threaten to bury us and steal our very souls.
Part of the #365dare that I issued last Thanksgiving included "looking for little things to thank Him for." This, to me, is what changes everything. When you begin to realize that everything is grace-gift and that He has ordained every trial for your growth, you start to look for seeds of goodness to hold onto, no matter how rocked your world may be. You begin to choose to fight your own complainings with the sureness of His love, talking to yourself in the fear moments and reminding yourself that He is always good.
I don't know what your challenges may be, but I ask you to join with me in seeing them as grace. God has seasoned your trials with blessing and has proportioned your sufferings exactly to your need. Trust Him. When we choose to see Him, we will find no place for complaints. Rather, like Jakson Follman, we must realize that God has given us life and that is enough.