Caroline was on my mind most of the day, from "her" first Thanksgiving dinner (albeit through me),
to the idea of being thankful in the midst of our situation. I can honestly say that I was thankful, if for nothing else then for that we have Caroline with us for now.
It doesn't mean that it's easy to get through holidays. I was actually pretty ok most of the day, but there were definitely moments during the day when I had random thoughts like, "I hope we get to have Caroline with us next Thanksgiving" and "I hope that we REALLY have something to be thankful about soon because God decided to heal Caroline." I'm not saying that any of my thoughts were "right" or "righteous," but they were real. I can't say that on Thanksgiving I was really wanting to be thankful for Caroline's condition, or the uncertainty it places in our lives. Not just Thanksgiving, either, but ever.
It's hard to be thankful sometimes in the midst of this. I try extremely hard to keep my focus on eternity, and I can be thankful for the grace and peace God gives me daily, but anything else is difficult. On a day set aside to thank God for our blessings, it was hard for me to thank Him for anything past today. Thinking about the future, with all the uncertainty, all the pain that could possibly come, all the "missed opportunities" with Caroline...it's not something for which my heart just cries out, "Thank you, Lord!" I can thank Him for everything He's already done, and for everything He's giving me, and I can try to thank Him for what He WILL do, but it is so hard.
My selfish heart wants to say, "I'll thank you if you heal her." In the deepest parts of me, I can't seem to find the strength to say, "I'll thank you no matter what you decide to do." I have to be honest with God and let Him know that part of me. He sees it anyway, so I might as well fess up to it. And by acknowledging that part of me, I can ask for help to overcome it.
That's something I can be thankful for.
God doesn't expect me to be perfect. He doesn't even expect me to know what to do in this situation. He doesn't harbor any illusions that I can handle this on my own. But He does tell me, "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father." -John 14:13. If I don't know what to do, I just have to ask. "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." -James 1:5.
So here's what God has taught me this week as I have struggled with Thanksgiving and all it entails...
He is worthy of my praise and thanksgiving no matter what happens here on earth. He sent His Son to die for me, so I could spend eternity with Him and not in eternal judgment and pain. He created me and my husband, my family, my daughter, and He knows what is best, even if we don't always like it. He is God, the Creator, Redeemer, Healer, Savior, Comforter, Friend. He doesn't owe me a dang thing, and I should still be grateful for what He's already given me. Even if it is His will to let Caroline go ahead of me into eternity, He's given me more than I deserve already in my life. When I can get my head on straight, I know that, but it's very hard to accept sometimes. It requires a lot of humility, something I don't particularly care for. It requires a lot of self-sacrifice and self-denial, both things I don't care for. It requires me to admit I don't know what's best, and that I am not God. Another thing I don't care for. It requires me to relinquish control to Someone I cannot see, Someone that I don't always understand, Someone who does things much differently than I would...something else I don't enjoy. Are we seeing a pattern here? I have to give up ME, so God can be glorified in me. I have to give up my desires, my life, so He can use me, so He can be glorified.
Oh, friends, it hurts. It isn't pleasant. It isn't fun. "Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it." -Luke 9:23-24. Self-denial isn't natural, and it isn't enjoyable. But it IS worth it. Opening my hands and my heart and saying, "Lord, take it all," is hard. Especially when one of the things I'm giving up is my unborn daughter. But here's the deal...it's not up to me whether Caroline will live only in my womb, or have a full life here on earth. I can reject Christ's plan, but it's still His plan, and it will still happen. If I can instead accept His plan and strive to be worthy of His calling, how much more glory will He receive, and how much more peace will I receive? He's not leaving me on my own like a cold-hearted tyrant. He's not doing this because He enjoys seeing His children in pain. I may never know the reason why this is happening, but I can see the good coming from it, even now. I can feel God's love and grace showering down on me. He is a good and loving God, even in the midst of this situation.
Don't get me wrong...this is a struggle. It's something God has to help me do everyday. Being thankful in the midst of this pain and uncertainty is beyond me, but it isn't beyond Him. When I am weak, He is strong. When I am selfish, He is selfless. When I am in pain, He is the Comforter. It is only by His grace that any of this is possible. I still beg Him for a healing miracle for Caroline. I still beg Him to let me keep her. I still beg Him to help me everyday as I struggle to accept His will, no matter the outcome. And He is good. He is faithful. He is gracious to me.
If I can find nothing else, THAT is enough for me to be thankful. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." -Ephesians 1:3