With Kindness

For as long as I can remember, God has been good to me and blessed me abundantly.  Those blessings have increased exponentially since I committed my life to Jesus (to qualify that last part – I am the first to admit that I continually fail at this and it is a complete work in progress).  I am happily married with two beautiful and healthy boys.  My husband, Reuben and I are both healthy and have very good jobs.   He is my best friend and I’m his. My children are at great schools and have many friends.  I am blessed to also have so many wonderful friends and family in my life.  I live in New Zealand in a lovely bay with views from our home overlooking a stunning harbour which extends out to the Pacific Ocean. So many of our overseas friends who have come to visit us refer to it as “paradise”.   Looking out at that breathtaking view every day always makes me think of this verse:

Romans 1: 20

Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.  

Angela has asked me to write to two points:

  1. How has God been good to me?
  2. How do I show Him gratitude?

God hears me and knows my needs:

I am a cat lover.  Not all cats, some are frisky and manky.  And I don’t like ginger cats.  But I do love my Burmese girl, Sabrina.  Since we got her as a little black/brown kitten she had been unwell and never put on much weight.  A couple of years ago she started to get really unwell and stopped eating (although she was not a big eater so I didn’t notice this initially), then she stopped drinking.  When this happened, I took her to the vet.  It was a Friday afternoon and I had both boys with me.  The vet did the usual checks accompanied by a look of dismay.  Trying to avoid the boys hearing what she had to say, she quietly told me that Sabrina likely had an untreatable disease but would need more testing to confirm – and the results would not be available until the next week.  The prognosis was not good and she felt that Sabrina would not live through the weekend.  Her lungs were full of fluid and needed to be drained immediately.  The vet suggested we leave her there for a couple of hours and come back and collect her once the draining was finished.  She said there was little she could do other than that and if we wanted Sabrina to be at home with us this weekend, then that was probably the best thing to do, given there was little they could do. 

We left her at the vet and drove to the nearby beach.  I am not a hugely emotional person and managed to hold back any tears.  When we arrived at the beach, I decided to tell the boys she was unlikely to make it through the weekend.  My oldest was particularly devastated, my emotions made a sudden entry and together we cried and cried.  At that point, as is usually the way when we are at our wits end, I suggested that together we prayed for her.  And we did.  And I could see Hugo meant it from the bottom of his heart.

When we collected Sabrina, the vet had managed to drain 120ml from her lungs.  The vet gave us some antibiotics in case she had something else which was treatable and we took her home.  She was so so sick.  She could not lift her head.  But we just loved on her and prayed for her.  I had her sleeping next to me in bed at night to keep her warm.  In the middle of the night on Saturday, I woke and touched her, she was cold.  I shook Reuben awake and in tears cried out “she’s dead!”  Reuben turned on the light and touched her.  “She’s still breathing” he said, and he turned off the light and went back to sleep.  I lay with her and prayed.  She survived the night and the next day there was an ever so slight improvement.  As the days passed, her health improved.  And although it took 6 months of antibiotic treatment, she survived and is healthier today than she ever was.  I know for some of you, this is just a story about a cat, but to me God knew mine and my son Hugo’s desires and needs.  The vet told us that she would without a doubt die that weekend.  But God heard our cries, and she survived and became healthier than she had ever been.  I refer to this often when talking to Hugo and telling him to pray and talk to Jesus about any worries he has.  

1 John 5:14

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

Mark 11:24

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Sabrina’s miraculous survival is just one of the blessings and answers to prayer, but there have been multitudes of blessings in response to prayer: new jobs, sickness healed, new amazing people in our lives, financial success, forgiveness where I never thought possible, a scholarship awarded…and so many more.

The second point Angela has asked me to write about is more difficult.  The reality is in my life there are lots of blessings, but not so much gratitude in return.   I know I am not abundantly showing Him gratitude and as a working mother in a demanding job and living in such a fast-paced and very secular society, I struggle to find time.  I don’t regularly attend a church, I don’t help out with my time in any charity, I don’t write a journal nor spend hours on end studying the bible.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

During one of my bible study sessions in China, a wise friend told me that life involves many seasons and what is important is showing gratitude to God and remembering that He knows what season we are in.  Although I do not show anywhere near the amount of gratitude I should, I do seek to show it in two main ways:

  1. Acknowledging Him:  By acknowledging and remembering God by thoughts, actions and words, we show Him gratitude.    Reading His Word together with prayer, whether it be prayers of request or prayers of praise.  I do not often have an hour at a time to sit down and do this, but I keep my bible by my bed and I read my daily devotions on my walk from my car to my office.  I make a habit of recognizing that I am in His presence each time that I find myself alone, eg when I take a toilet break at work; folding the washing; driving anywhere alone; when I wake in the night.
  2. Thanking and praising Him:  Every night Reuben and I pray and thank Him for everything we have.  I have a wonderful mother and enjoy our mother/daughter chats  – during these we so often turn our discussion to the wonderful blessings that our  extended family continually receives and we know these are from Him.   

As I finish this blog off, I have just remembered that today is Thanksgiving.  Not in New Zealand as we don’t celebrate it – its Spring down here so no pumpkins and no crunchy leaves, but instead the start of summer fruits, beach weather and pohutukawa blossom.  Although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, one can’t help but notice the bombardment of Black Friday deals that now appear to be so entrenched in New Zealand culture– such a pity that Thanksgiving doesn’t precede them as it does in America. So as I finish this off, I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life, but what I am most thankful for is that whatever my circumstances in life, whatever the crazy pace my life is running at, by God’s grace I am His (always).

1 Thessalonians 5: 18

Be thankful in all circumstances.  This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

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