Fear came roaring in. I could have let the fear overwhelm me, control me, inhabit me, become my constant companion.
Two years ago my husband, Larry, came down with a terrible case of shingles. Sores covered the right side of his face from his chin, up over his ear and deep into his eardrum rupturing it 70 percent and leaving him in excruciating pain. In the end, it also set off another attack of his neurological disorder called NMO (Neuro-myalitis-optica) and left him barely able to use his right arm. Many people who have NMO are blind and in wheelchairs. Larry is not, and we have been very fortunate. But I will never forget the words his neurologist said when we went for a visit, “I am terrified for you!” Again I repeat…fear came roaring in.
It’s interesting that in the weeks before this happened I had begun a journey with the Lord of learning to be radically thankful no matter what the circumstance. I had just received two gifts that have been critical to this journey of transformation in my life. They have really helped me learn how to embrace a lifestyle of being radically thankful.
My first gift was a camera given to me by Larry and my kids. With my camera I have been able to capture so much beauty in creation and those wonderful life moments that I want to savor and remember forever. I’m training my eyes to look for beauty, to look for those things to be thankful for, to see life through God’s perspective. This has helped me to keep Christ first in my mind, in my thoughts, in my attitude, in my emotions, in my behaviors.
My second gift was the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, given to me by a good friend. In her beautifully creative style, Ann shares how she was challenged to make a list of one thousand gifts, one thousand blessings to be thankful for. By doing this, she discovered that the life she always wanted was the life she already had. I also have discovered so much more about my life and the circumstances that have come upon me and how the Lord has used them to make me more like Him. I was learning to be thankful in all things.
Being radically thankful is easy when life is good, delightful and full of blessings. But we all know when life is uncertain, painful and unfair it is hard to be thankful. But I can tell you from experiencing some very painful experiences that learning to be thankful is a battle worth fighting. For me, learning to be radically thankful is helping me learn to experience the power of God’s inner tranquility independent of circumstances. It is showing me how trustworthy God is, and it’s teaching me how valuable is His peace. I am radically thankful that God has me on this lifelong journey.
I Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
By Barbara Magnuson. Barbara is married to Larry and they have been in ministry for the last 35 years. The first 22 years Barbara was a pastor’s wife, and the last 13 years Larry and Barbara have been leading 7-day spiritual retreats for those in ministry at SonScape Retreats. They have four adult children and two grandkids.