Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Counting God's Gifts

"Ingratitude is a sin." - Chuck Missler, Koinonia Institute, Haggai/Malachi class

I did a double take when I heard it, not because it was foreign to me, but because I have heard it before.
From all of our beginnings we keep reliving the Garden story.
Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom in the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.
Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?
Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren't satisfied in God, in what He gives. We hunger for something more. Something other."
- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, page 9.

After reading this book. I started keeping my own list of One Thousand Gifts. That was February 13, 2011. I started with 7 or 8 per day. There was always something, even something small. Little did I know God was using this practice of looking daily for His blessings, to help me focus on Him six weeks later. It was then I realized not all gifts are good and easy. In fact, some blessings are downright hard.
My then 10-year old son, "Phineas," came down with a headache that Thursday morning. It did not go away even after the Tylenol I gave him before going to school. He stayed home the next day and the fever still didn't go away. On top of it he was acting really strange and I could not understand what he was saying. I told him, "Son, if this is an April Fool's joke, it's not very funny." When we went to Urgent Care, the doctor took one look at him and sent us to Children's Hospital for a possible brain inflammation. He was admitted to Children's Hospital with a meningitis diagnosis- viral, the good kind, they said. Then he was discharged - prematurely, I thought - two days later.

I was right.

By Wednesday night I found myself calling 911. We found ourselves back to Children's ER in the early hours of Thursday, April 7th. It was to the longest day of our lives but the practice of listing my gifts continued:

558. A son being carried by his Dad
559. No waiting in the ER! (This was a first)
560. Prayer requests sent at 3:16 a.m. to my sisters-in-Christ across the country
561. Response at 3:18 a.m. from Tennesee
562. Phone call from North Carolina
563. Real men do cry (my husband).

P's condition continued to deteriorate. By 11:00 a.m., he was non-responsive and it was the most frightening thing I have ever seen. My normally vibrant, intelligent, talkative son has been reduced to someone catatonic with a vacant stare. I had just downloaded YouVersion on my phone and decided to play the Psalms in audio. I held it over him and prayed that God's word can penetrate the recesses of his brain. When they were ready to take him to the CT scan I leaned over and whispered, "Son, I don't know if you can hear me but all those bible verses you've memorized for the Awana Bible Quiz and the Bible Bee? I need you to think about those right now, okay?"

The CT scan came back normal and they scheduled an MRI and his 3rd spinal tap at 3:00 p.m. After the MRI:

572. Nurse was paying attention when P had the seizure and aspirated
573. Running, running to his room - it felt like forever
574. Code Blue and all medical personnel descending to his room

I don't think I will ever forget turning around and seeing my husband, the one who has been indifferent to God, huddled under a desk, tears and terror in his eyes. This particular son - this is his "Isaac." The hospital personnel took us to a different room where we prayed. My husband was on his knees the whole time. They eventually stabilized P, moved him to the ICU and hooked him to a ventilator. They sent my husband and I (and by this time, our older son who insisted on flying back from college when he learned P was sick) home. I wrote down every blessing that day. I ended up with 55. It was the most I have ever written.

P spent a week in ICU and 4 more weeks in recovery. Some days were good (646. He opened his eyes) and some were difficult like finding out that it wasn't just meningitis but something else that affected not only his brain but also his spinal cord. The neurologist was not sure if he will be the same again. But every night without fail, as soon as I finish making my makeshift bed and he is asleep, I take my red notebook out and write my blessings. And I found this to be true:

"It is suffering that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver grace…emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy…" Ann Voskamp, OneThousand Gifts

Looking back, I am amazed at what God has done. I belong to a group of sister believers who pray for our unsaved/not walking with the Lord spouses - their husbands started praying when they heard about what happened to my son. God kept me healthy even with minimal sleep. I did not get sick at all and I was not even crabby. The peace that passes understanding in Philippians 4:7? I experienced that. The prayers of faithful (Awana family, church, online friends) sustained us. God introduced me to other families in the ICU and I was able to minister to them. And the most amazing thing of all? After my son was discharged on May 6, my husband came to church with us that following Sunday. I have been praying for that for 7 years and tried everything in my arsenal from manipulation to guilt. Nothing worked. Until God stepped in. And His timing was perfect. It was the best Mother's Day ever.

This is the first time I am putting this experience in writing. I wish I could tell you everything that happened during and after those weeks. I just wanted to share my testimony for whomever may need it today. Let this be my offering of gratitude to God for what He has given us.
Psalm 136:1-3
1O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.
2O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

God still works miracles, in ways we never expect. He restored my son. He is restoring my husband and our marriage. I don't want to forget -- and waste His gift, ever.

1 comment:

atechieblogger said...

I need it.

How does one read through tear-filled eyes? I did.

It is reading or hearing testimonies such as yours that reminds how ungrateful I have become to God.

I know how hard it is to look back and write about the difficulties we've been through. This makes me appreciate even more your effort to write about and share this story. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Today becomes Day 1 of my "Counting God's Gifts" list.

God bless you and your family.