November 24, 2017
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)
When I began sharing my recent diagnosis of endometrial cancer with friends, more than one confessed in all caps, “I HATE CANCER!”
I get it. Nothing lovable about cancer cells, nothing joyful about malignant tumors, and definitely nothing fun about surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and the rest.
But there’s been another side to this unexpected journey. Some glorious, eye-opening, wouldn’t-trade-anything-for-them moments came when I was willing to embrace today’s verse with my whole heart: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Liz, are you saying you’re grateful to have cancer? Yes, that’s what I’m saying.
Feel free to shake your head, roll your eyes or sigh loudly at this point. What I’m about to share may sound like a woman who has swallowed one too many steroid pills before her latest chemotherapy treatment and is floating on a drug-induced euphoria.
The truth is, my gratitude has nothing to do with chemicals and everything to do with Christ. After three dozen years of knowing Him as my Lord and Savior, I now know Him as my Comforter, Healer and Friend. I have never been more aware of His presence or more in awe of His power. And I’ve never felt more compelled to speak His name or sing His praises!
Though I wouldn’t wish cancer on anyone, I long for my brothers and sisters in Christ to experience firsthand what happens when we accept the reality of our circumstances and not only trust God, but also thank God for the path He has laid out for us.
So, those six reasons to be thankful through a hard season?
A greater sense of His faithfulness. When I cried out to Him from my hospital bed in the middle of the night, He was already there, calming my broken heart, assuring me of His love, just as His Word tells us, “Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” (Psalm 36:5, NIV).
A richer understanding of His peace. After the oncologist explained my diagnosis, the Lord dried my tears and reminded me of His sovereignty in all things. Since God’s in charge, and we are not, we can let go of our anxious thoughts and rest in Him. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, NIV).
A constant assurance of His goodness. Because His plans for us are always good and always purposeful, I can lift up my shiny bald head and say, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13, NIV).
A deeper dependence on His presence. Desperately aware of my need for Jesus, I am praying more often and more earnestly than ever before. When I’m on my knees, He meets me without fail. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2, NIV).
A fresh experience of His freedom. Of all the emotions that have washed over me, fear held sway for only one terrible day. After much weeping and gnashing of teeth, by God’s grace I chose to stand on His truth and be set free. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God” (Isaiah 41:10a, NIV).
A clearer vision of His hope. Whatever the outcome — healing or heaven — God holds out a bright beacon of hope for my future and yours, and provides the greatest reason for gratitude. “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful …” (Hebrews 12:28a, NIV).
Whatever you might be going through right now, beloved, I am grateful for the honor of encouraging you, this holiday season and always.
Lord, give us the strength to be thankful in all circumstances. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Colossians 2:6-7, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (NIV)
Liz Curtis Higgs’ latest devotional, 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path, unwraps 31 verses from Proverbs that offer solid truth, heartfelt counsel and endless hope in a beautiful gift book.
It’s that time of year again — when post-Thanksgiving sales are plentiful, and Christmas shopping is a top priority. If you are looking for meaningful gifts that don’t break the bank, join us for our Cyber Weekend sale going on in the Proverbs 31 online store. We have $9 devotionals and Bible studies, discounted books, jewelry and more! Plus, free standard shipping site-wide on all orders over $35 for U.S. residents. Our biggest sale of the year ends Monday, 11/27! Shop now.
Join Liz Curtis Higgs today on Facebook for a heartfelt chat about being thankful and a HUGE holiday giveaway!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
All of us have been touched by cancer or a similar health challenge, whether in our own lives or through the life of someone we care about. How has God strengthened your faith on that unexpected journey?
© 2017 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 24 November 2017.