My daughter once accused her older brother of opening his eyes during dinner prayer, not realizing, of course, she implicated herself in the process. Classic. But last week the violator of the “Super-Spiritual Guide to Prayer Protocol” wasn’t 10 years old, she was 49. Guilty as charged, I opened my eyes mid-prayer when a woman in my prayer group said a surprising thing: “Thank you, God, for the opportunity to need you.”
It struck me as odd, and then amazing. The struggles about which we were praying God’s guidance and deliverance were what she called “opportunities” to need Him. If true, I had much to be thankful for ranging from the annoying (“Thank you for needing a time out because I can’t handle one more autism-related refusal to eat dinner because it’s not wrapped in a box marked ‘McDonalds’”); to the hurting (“Thank you for feeling a failure when I have no energy left to console my equally stressed-out daughter”); to the fearful unknown (“Thank you for a future I can’t begin to map out because disability has so altered the course of life’s journey).
Thank you? Yes.
We can offer thanks, not for the pain or the struggle, but because we know there is One who never leaves our side. “We thank you, O God! We give thanks because you are near,” (Ps 75:1) David says. God responds with reassurance, “…when the earth quakes and its people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps its foundations firm.”(Ps 75: 3)
Our special needs lives are often full of moments that shake us to our core. But turmoil and earthquakes that bring us to the end of ourselves also bring us to our knees to the One who draws near and who alone is able to bring beauty from ashes. He is the one who keeps our foundations firm when we no longer feel we can stand.
In my lowest moments, when all answers and control were clearly beyond me, it was when I remembered to look back at times God parted the waters in our family’s life that I was reassured we are not alone. God is still near. The shaking of my world would not destroy us. And when I looked forward to the promise that One Day, all would be restored? That was sometimes the only foundation on which I could keep a foothold.
This week, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the turmoil my husband’s ancestor, a carpenter on the Mayflower (who later became the father of a special needs son), experienced when his young wife died before that first year was over. Almost half of those who began that voyage lost their lives that first winter. So many earthquakes and turmoil; so many opportunities to need God. And yet, they were able to look back and see God’s nearness, his provision, even in the hardships, and they could be grateful.
As we reflect on the countless reasons we can be thankful for God’s presence in our lives this year, where have you felt God’s nearness or seen his goodness during those “opportunities” to need him?
Kelli Ra Anderson, author Divine Duct Tape
Latest posts by Kelli Ra Anderson (see all)
- Calming our Anxiety in Special Needs Parenting - August 24, 2015
- Victory in the Seeming Loss of Special Needs Advocacy - June 22, 2015
- Retreating in God’s Hands: respite for the special needs parent - May 25, 2015