Ali Hooper is our guest blogger this week. The Hooper family continues to be a huge blessing to Vista. I am often inspired by their hospitality and service to all in the name of Jesus. This entry from Ali exemplifies what it means to live at the intersection of Jesus and real life.
I recently gave birth to my second child, a daughter, and when I arrived home from the hospital, my son was sick with croup. Within a week, both my husband and I started experiencing cold symptoms, and within two weeks, my newborn daughter was congested. It wasn’t long before all four of us were miserably sick.
One night, as I wearily nursed my baby girl, I became overwhelmed with emotion, and the tears poured out. “Why, Lord, why? Why can’t we catch a break? I’m too sick and sore to meet my family’s needs (I was also recovering from a c-section), and my husband can hardly function as he suffers the flu. And my babies are miserably sick. Why us, Lord?”
I was exhausted, discouraged, and frustrated. But God was quick to respond. And, no, He didn’t say, “Okay, Ali, you survived my test and everything will be better in the morning.” Rather, He said, “Do everything without complaining.” (Philippians 2:14)
God commands us to refrain from complaining, and amidst my sniffles, tears, and sore abdomen, I knew He wanted me to change my perspective.
But He didn’t stop there; He wanted even more from me. As you might imagine, my first thought was, “Seriously, God? It’s not enough for me to shut my mouth and refrain from complaining?”
“No,” He said, “Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)
WHAT? Be joyful?! I’m miserable. And my son has a fever of 101 degrees. My daughter fights nursing because she can hardly breathe. Sure, I’ll pray, but what do I have to be thankful for?
And then it hit me. I have a FAMILY. I have a son and a daughter who are alive and well. I have a husband who is not deployed, deceased, or uninvolved. I have the strength to nurse my daughter, and I have the ability to care for my family even if I don’t “feel” like it. I have so much for which to thank God. I have plenty that brings me joy. And it is with that perspective that I was able to glorify God even when my tendency was to be discouraged and frustrated.
It is this perspective that God wants us to adopt in ALL things. As parents, this can be difficult, to say the least. We are quick to complain about our unruly toddler. We often forget to express joy when our teenager disappoints us. We fail to give thanks when our baby is up for the fifth time in one night.
Often when people ask me, “how are you doing?” I quickly respond, “I can’t complain.” Because, really, I can’t. But too often, I do. Sometimes I am quick with this response simply to remind myself that I C-A-N-N-O-T complain. Yes, we should have emotions – frustration, sadness, anger – but ultimately, we need to honor God amidst our sufferings.
Things did not automatically improve after that long night. In fact, we are still on the mend. But because of God’s Word, I am more likely to embrace my sniffling daughter rather than complain. I am more likely to cuddle with my snot-nosed toddler rather than be discouraged. And I am more likely to show my family God’s greatest commandment to all of us: Love.
You can read more about the Hooper family at Ali’s Blog: www.blessedtreehouse.com