Gains from Pains
By Estrela Marques
When someone suggested that I try to be thankful even in bad situations, it seemed impossible. I was familiar with the biblical admonition to “be thankful in all circumstances,” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT) but it had never dawned on me to take that literally. Was it possible to have a thankful disposition and to vocalize and act on it, even when things were at their worst?
I began to understand the be-thankful-for-everything principle while reading Power in Praise, by Merlin Carothers. According to his findings, it’s what releases God’s miracle-working power, not only in regard to the circumstances we face but also in our own hearts, giving us the peace and faith we need to go through life’s storms.
I wanted more of God’s power in my life, so I determined to try thanking Him for everything. Little did I know how difficult this would prove to be.
When our second child was four months old, my husband was involved in a terrible accident. On my way to the hospital, I was informed that he was already undergoing emergency surgery. Tears welled up in my eyes as I realized I might never see him again in this life.
I spent the next hours trying to pray for him and the surgeons, but I could barely focus. Then Jesus spoke to my heart, reminding me to thank Him even for this situation. I forced a “Thank You, Jesus,” but I knew I didn’t really mean it. How could I?
After four excruciating hours, I was told that my husband was in a coma, in critical condition. He had suffered multiple fractures on his skull that could result in brain damage, as well as a fractured hip, arm, and jaw, and deep wounds on his back. They had been able to save most of his mangled right hand, but he had lost one finger. They had done all they could, they said. Only time would tell how his body would respond. I tried to be strong and have faith, but I was shattered and in shock.
I couldn’t help but question how a loving God could have allowed this to happen. I tried to trust that my husband was in God’s hands, that He loved and cared about us and knew best, but I also felt that if I did so, that would mean I was supposed to be thankful for whatever outcome He may choose. I struggled with that all night. How could I be thankful if my husband died? Or if he survived but was unable to walk, or talk, or function normally again? How could I say I would be fine with whatever might happen? I wouldn’t be!
As I watched the day dawn, Jesus reminded me of His own struggle in Gethsemane. He had asked His Father to spare Him the crucifixion He knew was coming, but He had ended His prayer with, “Not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) Jesus wasn’t asking me to walk a path He hadn’t walked Himself. I was about to experience what countless others down through the ages have discovered: God is able to use every trial to help make us better.
As soon as I latched onto that thought, an incredible peace flooded my mind and spirit. Each of the next five days I went to the ICU to talk to, read to, and pray for my husband, even though he was still in a coma and the doctors’ daily reports were not hopeful.
After five days, he awoke and began to recover rapidly. He had short-term amnesia, but could move all of his limbs and talk. A blood clot in his brain disappeared without surgery. He stayed in the ICU for only 10 days, even though the doctors had expected him to be there for at least a month.
When he first began to speak again, he often didn’t make sense. Still I kept trusting that God had a loving plan, and I thanked Him for that. And God came through. My husband regained full use of his right hand, and his reasoning and speech became normal again. The doctors were amazed.
I gained a new perspective on life—one like Albert Camus described when he wrote, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was within me an invincible summer.”
In the depth of anguish, I was wrapped in love that didn’t leave me for an instant. When I chose to replace sorrow and despair with praise and gratitude, I experienced a sustaining power that was far greater than anything I had known existed—“the peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” (Philippians 4:7 NIV)
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