Thankfulness in the Storm
It’s been a tough month in the Evans’ household. The baby, Benjamin, has started a new type of seizure activity that is proving very hard to control. He also caught a horrible head cold that has severely impacted his breathing and increased his oxygen needs. I fell and bruised my ribs bad enough that the doctor said I might as well have fractured them. And, oh yeah, a little thing called Hurricane Irma came through and shut off our power for 5 days.
Lots of stuff to complain about and feel sorry for myself about. Quite a bit of despair and wondering if life is really worth it. Much time spent peering into a gloomy crystal ball that predicts a bleak and miserable future. A few pity parties and tears and “woe is me” phone calls to my sister (who is dealing with her own personal crisis with much more maturity and faith than I am).
I heard a pastor preach a whole sermon on those two words once and how awesome they are. If you think about it, those are the best two words in the world.
When Irma knocked out our electricity we were ready with the huge generator (only one left to purchase in the entire city) we’d snatched up right before Matthew last year. Since we never lost power, it was still brand new, but we kept it because Baby Benji is on constant oxygen and, when he’s sick and on high flow, he runs through more tanks than we can stock. He needs an electric concentrator to survive for longer than a few hours. Bonus to the generator, we also got to plug in our 2 fridges and 1 deep freeze, not to mention the vitally important homeschooling essential, the pencil sharpener. We thought we were golden and, really, we were. Family in town had their power restored fairly quickly and we lived like nomads, coming home to do school during the day with flashlights (shutters are still up) and fans and cold showers, and sleeping at night at various air conditioned places around town. (Let me tell you, 1 pillow, 1 blanket, and 1 sleeping mat/air mattress for 9 people is a TON of bedding!)
By day 3 things were getting a little old and I sent Benji and my husband to stay permanently at the in-laws so that the heat during the day wouldn’t be affecting Benji’s breathing. Also, so that I could get through 5 minutes of school without having to take care of a baby who was desatting (that’s medical jargon for “not getting enough oxygen and setting off his pulse oximeter alarms”).
Why were we doing school? Well, we’d taken the week before off, and I was sure the power was going to come back on at any moment, and I only like to take an entire week off at a time instead of just a day because it throws off my planner and things like math tests and spelling tests get moved to different days. Yes, I realize how silly that sounds as I type this, but the struggle is real. I number each day of school and I couldn’t face having a 5 day week plan that didn’t end on a multiple of 5. (Think about it).
So, cue the crescendo-ing self-pity and then God steps in.
Our life group at church has been going through a series by Paul Tripp on Jonah. I highly recommend it! I never before realized how applicable Jonah is to my life. This last week we were finishing the series and the lesson was on how God appointed a storm, a plant, and a worm. All of them were completely under His control. Ironic, right? The question was asked, “How sovereign do you really believe God to be?” And he said something that really struck my heart. I’ll paraphrase: Often our despair is a result of not getting our own way.
I realized that I place an almost idolatrous (and maybe I should delete the “almost”) value on having my ideal of a perfect family. And when that is taken away from me, when we’re all screaming at each other, and the baby is turning two and still hasn’t developed past age 2 months, and he can’t breathe, and it’s hot, and I haven’t had coffee for 3 days, I get really depressed. And it’s not that those things aren’t worthy of being upset about, it’s that the reason I’m feeling despair is because I believe these things are outside of God’s control. I’m not getting my own way so I’m going to throw a little (or big) pity party temper tantrum.
So, instead of lying on the ground and kicking my feet (which I can’t do right now with my bruised ribs anyway!) I have another choice. I can trust that God is in control of every little detail, from the worms that crawl in the dirt, to the big storms that sometimes take aim at our state and turn everyone here into rabid water bottle hoarders and abysmal drivers. Instead of focusing on the sweat dripping down my face, I can be grateful that my home is still standing with zero damage. Instead of worrying about my baby’s lack of development, I can continue to work his therapy and trust that God has got this. It’s not going to look the way I want it to look. I’m not going to get my own way in this. And that is a very, very good thing.
Paul Tripp also made a comment about how God used a giant storm to reach the heart of one man. I’m not saying that Hurricane Irma was sent solely to teach me a lesson, and yes, I realize that I am typing this as I sit in my newly air conditioned home while the overhead light is shining bright and my baby’s breathing is starting to improve, but I hope that I can hold on to this new feeling of gratitude for the many, many blessings that are in my life and trust God for the rest.
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You know that family that shows up to church in the 15 passenger van? The one that homeschools? Ever wondered how they make it through the day or wished you could be a fly on the wall of their house? Well, I'm inviting you in. I'm 36 and I ride herd on 8 children (oldest is 12), 3 cats, 2 bearded dragons, and one puppy. It's loud, chaotic, and imperfect. Welcome to Life in the Big House!