4 Things to be Thankful for in the Midst of Sickness

There is weariness I've experienced this season, because it seems like every other week since September, someone has been sick in our house.  This is mostly due to the fact that we have 3 very young children, 2 of which have yet to understand the concept of keeping their hands out of their mouth.  Not to mention, keeping things from passing around our own family is extremely difficult.  Gabe and Cal share everything, and even when I'm super intentional about keeping cups and pacis straight, they will just swap behind my back.  Sickness is just going to happen.  There is no way around it.

The hardest thing about sickness, however, is my own heart.  When myself, my husband, or my kids are sick, it's really easy for me to moan and groan.  It's one area where the discomfort and stress overwhelm me, and most of my thoughts turn to complaining instead of praise.  This is frustrating, because deep down, I want to be able to approach each life circumstance with a spirit of thanksgiving and humble acceptance of God's sovereign plan.  So I'm sharing these reasons today, because I need to hear them.  I need to be reminded that there are reasons to praise in the midst of throw up, dozens of dirty diapers, runny noses, and fevers.  And being that we are getting ready to go into family settings where germs are bound to be passed, I need to get my heart ready to joyfully endure whatever comes our way.

Here are a few lessons I'm trying to take to heart in the midst of this never-ending-ridiculously-cold-sickly-winter:
1.  I'm thankful that we are healthy most of the time.
When I (or my husband or my kids) feels sick, it's the worst...we boo hoo about it, but honestly, when someone is throwing up again, all I have to do is remind myself that it is going to pass.  Then I sit and think, "what if this was our 'normal' everyday life due to a medical problem or treatment?"  I wonder, "what would life be like if one of our children had an ongoing illness, and not just a virus?"  These short bouts of sickness really do remind me to be VERY thankful that some stomach bugs and low fevers are all we have to worry about.  There are much worse and life altering medical issues we could be dealing with.

2.  I'm thankful that God made our bodies to heal themselves.
In my opinion, throwing up is one of the worst physical feelings....maybe second only to labor pains.  Not to speak of the discomfort that comes from chills, fevers or body aches.  But honestly, they serve a great purpose.  God did a miraculous job creating our immune systems to know how to fight off normal illnesses successfully.  If he didn't make our bodies in a way that caused us to throw up when we got sick, they might be overcome by the virus.  He is a God of restoration, and although it's sometimes uncomfortable, I'm thankful that usually, our bodies DO restore themselves instead of giving over to death.

3.  I'm thankful for the reminder that I'm not in control.
You know what happens when I'm feeling sick?  Nothing.  I'm weak, powerless, and stuck in bed.  I tend to think I'm pretty put together and self-sufficient, but all it takes is a few measly germs to totally hinder my ability to even complete simple tasks.  We are so fragile, and it's amazing that for as 'in control' as we think we are, all of our plans can be instantly affected by illness.  And although we can support our body in it's healing, we are powerless to just 'end' our own suffering.  What a good reminder that God is sovereign, and only because of his grace are we able to function day after day.

4.  I'm thankful that sickness will not exist for believers in eternity.
The bible says that someday, His children will experience no more sickness, death, or pain.  So illness might be dominating now, but after this life, that will NEVER happen again for all of eternity.  I am reminded that on this Earth where sin and death exist, my body is in a constant state of decay.  But because I have faith in Christ, this will not always be, and someday I will experience final restoration.  Praise God!

It's pretty hard to feel thankful when sickness is hanging around, but the bible compels me to...
  • "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good..." Psalm 107:1
  • "...giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father..." Ephesians 5:20
There are a TON of verses spurring us on towards an attitude of thanksgiving in all things.  I don't know about you, but I'm a poster-child for wanting God to just release me from tough circumstances instead of trusting his purposes in the midst of them.  So this winter, I'm learning to say, "Thank you God for how you reveal your glory in sickness, please achieve your purposes in and through even this."  Amen!

Technology and the Glory of God: Some thoughts & takeaways

Recently, Brad and I had the opportunity to attend a one day seminar on "Technology and the Glory of God" with Matt Perman and Tim Challies.  I'll admit that I'd been looking forward to this from the moment it popped into my email inbox.  Partially because I greatly admire both of the speakers (and could barely believe they were coming to a church within walking distance of my house), but also because the topic of technology has stirred up so many questions in my heart over the last couple of years.  So without further ado, here are some thoughts and takeaways from the day:

Do I have a plan and a system for my life?
Sometimes qualities like "productivity" and "efficiency" can seem like they are in opposition to God's great commission for us to love others and make disciples, but according to Matt Perman, that really isn't the case.  It is by and through prayerful planning, developing systems for managing tasks, and working to create good habits, that we are most effective at loving our neighbor to God's glory.  This is a freeing and exciting shift in thinking, and makes me even more motivated to leave this mentality of "survival" that I often live in.  Most of my days are spent taking care of the urgent and important needs of others, like changing diapers, making meals, putting on clothes, etc.  It can seem impossible to take care of things that are important but not urgent, like ironing my husband's shirts, developing a love of reading with my children, and training them to do important life skills.  I know it is possible and necessary for me to (by God's power and grace) take care of these non-urgent needs as well, and that starts with having a system for how I manage my home and my day.  Any good manager has a plan, so why should a homemaker, wife and mom be any exception?  Running my home without a plan and strategy is foolish, and will cause me to spend my life in reactionary mode.

How do I handle the distractions of technology?
Specifically, how do I handle the devices in our home (and on my person) which can cause distraction and information paralysis?  Do I have a strategy and accountability to keep my iphone from becoming my igod?  If my first reaction is to always check social media or repetitively check email all day, is that really an effective way to interact with technology?  And how is that impacting my ability to manage my home?  Maybe the distractions and pull of social media and online connection is some of what distracts from my ability to take care of these non-urgent but important responsibilities I have as a wife and mom.

Do I actively think about how I can use technology for God's glory?
Am I prayerful about what I post?  Have I evaluated some of the risks and pitfalls of my social media and internet usage?  Do I know my own weaknesses and do I fervently guard against those sins?  It is easy to just passively use Facebook, Instagram, Blogs, etc. and not really think critically about how they might impact others.  Technology is not bad in and of itself, it's just a tool.  And more and more, I want to harness and use that tool for redemptive purposes, to do good to others and share the gospel.  Some days that might involve sharing a snippet of my quiet time, other days it might mean staying silent when I feel the temptation to boast, and other days it might mean showing the daily life of our family.  Overall, I want to be more thoughtful and generous in doing good to others through the use of technology, instead of letting it just be neutral or viewing it as a bad thing.

Where is God leading me to be more "authentic" and what does that look like?
"What does authenticity online look like?"  Tim Challies responded by making two points that I will attempt to summarize (to my understanding):
  • We can't be completely transparent all the time and use social media to publicly report every sin.  If we didn't polish anything, no one would pay any attention.  Ultimately, people don't want to hear about every negative detail.  So it's not really right to think, "I want to influence people by sharing all of my 'real' sin moments."  If we did, we would have zero influence and little credibility to share truth.  
  • On the other hand, we need to be cautious that we aren't fueling this mentality of "jealousy" and perfection.  There does need to be prayerful authenticity where it is appropriate.  Our purposes in posting things shouldn't be to fuel our own good self-image, but to share things that are helpful and loving to others. 
Obviously this plays out in different ways for each person, but it really made me think about evaluating my heart in my social media usage.  How can I hold back in some of the moments where I just want more 'likes', and share more when I am tempted to hide my faults?  But on the other hand, how can I encourage others by sharing my victories in a way that brings God praise and glory?  As I think about the Christians whose lives I find most encouraging (who genuinely make me want to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ), I observe that they are humbly aware of their sin without glamorizing their failures in an effort to appear humble...which is an important distinction.  

What plan do we have to guard our children from the pitfalls of technology, and am I willing to hold myself to similar standards?
Tim Challies laid out an excellent and simple plan for guarding children and discipling them in the use of technology.  He specifically focused on the issue of pornography, but I think it applies across the board of unhealthy behavior online.  He shared that one reason it was hard to introduce it into their family was because it sort of pushed on everyone's desire for comfort, especially for them as a married couple.  Tim and his wife were willing to impose some accountability and restrictions on their own technology usage as a model to teach and train their children.  What strikes me about this, is that I often want to teach my children things without having any accountability myself.  For instance, I want to be able to check my cell phone all day, be glued to social media / Pinterest / blogs, waste time online AND at the same time I want to tell my toddler that he needs to learn self-control with screen time.  The most convicting thought of the whole night for me:

I need to, by God's grace, develop healthy habits and self-control in the area of technology.  
This isn't just a concern for my children, this is an issue in my life.  

I want to harness the power of technology in the digital age to further the great commission.
I want to find creative ways to love others through the use of technology.
I want to help spread the gospel to places I never could have reached before technology.
I want to be a witness to unbelievers through this blog and social media, when I would otherwise have no outlet to communicate deeply.
And through repentance, a closeness with God, and prayer - these things are possible!  

What concerns do you have about technology in your life or in the lives of your children?

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