It was a beautiful fall day, and despite having a 3-week old and two difficult toddlers, a trip to the park followed by some light shopping sounded like a good idea. Chalk it up to post-baby hormones that leave you feeling overwhelmed one minute and like superwoman the next.
Per usual, it took about 15 minutes simply to undo the stroller, stuff all the bags underneath (you might have thought we intended to campout for several days), and unbuckle aforementioned toddlers. Nevertheless, there we were at the park, all four of us. And I was only sweating a little by this point.
But before I could give myself a nice pat on the back, the meltdown commenced … the meltdown to overshadow my son’s previous meltdowns. In front of two other moms from his preschool, no less.
So I did what I’ve learned to do so well lately: pack it all up, scoop up my screaming child, and try to make it to the car before bursting into tears of frustration, embarrassment, and sheer fatigue.
Better days ahead … there are better days ahead, I hear it said from an endless source of people, so it must be true …
But what does it mean for these days, these sometimes grueling, painful, and long days? How are we to carry the joy of light-hearted days into the darkness of difficult ones?
I’ve written before about our struggles with Isaiah and his speech and sensory processing issues, all of which seem to have come to a head over these past 6 months. It’s been exhausting, particularly on top of the intense lack of sleep accompanying the arrival of a newborn.
I can think of few things more heavy than watching your child struggle—and not knowing what to do or how to help. These struggles have illuminated the fact that my children are a direct line straight into the center of my heart. When God needs my attention, nothing grabs it faster than circumstances impacting my babies.
In every trial and hard day with my son, I am challenged by my resolution to live in gratitude more fully, to speak with fluency the language of thanksgiving. To sing praises to God, even when my heart is heavy and hurting. As I’ve wrestled with these issues, I keep coming back to one particular scripture:
I will offer You a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the Name of the Lord (Psalm 116:17 NLT).
I can’t seem to stop meditating on that phrase, “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” and even finding comfort in it—because sometimes, giving thanks feels like a sacrifice.
Like when the news isn’t good or the bank account doesn’t add up or the loneliness is deafening or the anxiety is palpable.
Or when our mama hearts are heavy for our children. I think of my son, who always asks me to sing “Good Good Father” to him before bed (or “Good Good Good Father” as he calls it, precious thing). And the significance isn’t lost on me—singing those words over my son, when my aching heart is struggling to believe in God’s goodness…it’s a humbling and gracious reminder to sing those words over him:
You are perfect in all of your ways.
Even when those ways include doctors appointments and therapies and heartache and pain.
You are perfect in all of your ways.
Even when the way is hidden and scary and the future uncertain.
You are perfect in all of your ways, to us.
Yes, Lord, even when we want to snap our fingers and make it all better.
God isn’t going to let me forget His goodness or allow me to let go of hard-won faith—and He isn’t going to let you forget either!
In these times when we’re feeling the weight of a heavy burden, I believe the key to navigating the churning waters is found in offering up a sacrifice of thanksgiving … to reach deep and squint to see beyond our circumstances and continue to trust. In our doubts, may we be like Job, who did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:22 NIV). May praise ever be on our lips, even when it feels sacrificial and excruciating.
On the hardest of days, sometimes my sacrifice of thanksgiving is as small and meager as thanking Him for the rich color of falling leaves or the sparkling blue of an expansive sky. But I’m finding that recognizing these small, simple gifts opens the door of my heart, allowing Him to work in mysterious and beautiful ways.
What about you, dear reader—will you give thanks today, even if your heart is heavy? Will you offer up a sacrifice of thanksgiving, no matter now small? I pray today that you and I find the courage and faith to raise up empty hands and offer up weary souls, to call on His Name and rest secure in His great love for us.
And even though the fire pops and cracks and threatens to burn right through us, may we offer up our sacrifices of thanksgiving to the One who loves and holds us in all things.
For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever (Psalm 117:2 NIV).