Give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 8:13). Everything? Even the bad things?
That seems completely unrealistic and unfair. Anyway, that’s what I thought, until a near tragedy changed everything.
It started out like most nights at our place, frantically getting dinner ready in our upstairs kitchen while my boys played noisily around my feet. Phil had just stepped onto the veranda to light the barbeque when we heard an almighty thud!
“What on Earth was that?” I thought. Phil looked at me through the outside door and the horror in his eyes made my heart sink. He raced back inside.
Jack (two days shy of his first birthday) had found a small gap in the staircase handrail and plunged head first, two and a half metres to the wooden floor below.
“There’s no way he survived that,” I whispered, picturing his limp, lifeless body on the floor below.
A myriad of unspeakable thoughts went through my mind. Then, miraculously, out of the darkness… a cry.
Phil flew down the stairs and picked up our baby boy.
I was already on the mobile, calling an ambulance. Jack’s forehead had doubled in size and was distinctly purple. The operator finally made sense of my hysteria and an ambulance was on its way.
When the ambulance arrived, Phil placed Jack, still screaming, into my arms. Phil then held Jack’s older brother Tyson (poor, confused Tyson) by the hand.
As we ran to meet the ambulance our neighbour Jenni casually leaned over the fence for a chat and realised all was not well.
“I’m coming in the ambulance with you,” Jenni said.
How grateful I was to have someone with me to talk sensibly to the medics while Phil and Tyson followed behind in our car.
At the hospital, half a dozen emergency medical staff were waiting for us and pounced on Jack.
X-rays, MRIs, a cannula, poking and prodding.
I sang to Jack in a desperate, broken voice, trying to keep him calm while I fell apart. The nurses were gentle and kind.
Phil texted everyone we knew, asking them to pray for our little Jack.
By midnight, our baby boy was fast asleep. I was set up on a trundle bed beside him and spent the early hours of the morning staring out at the beautiful city lights as texts and emails poured in from friends and family who were praying for Jack.
My mother arrived and we waited out the next two days in the neurology ward.
Day two was Jack’s first birthday. His party was cancelled but he was smiling, and nothing else mattered in the whole wide world.
At about 3pm that day, a neurologist gave Jack the all-clear.
“Just a large fracture, from the top of his head to his eye socket,” he said. Ouch!
The sense of relief was incredible. Mum drove us home and as I took my first step inside, I burst into tears.
I didn’t know anything about post-traumatic stress syndrome but that’s what I was experiencing.
For weeks, whenever I heard an ambulance siren or a loud ‘thud’ I would jump 10 feet in the air. Tyson became super protective of his little brother – running from the other side of the house to make sure Jack was OK whenever he cried.
My social media post, written the day we arrived home from the hospital says: “When something terrible happens, that’s when you realise love is tangible. It has a face and hands, it’s a kind voice, it’s prayers, it’s words, it’s presence, it’s help, it’s heart.
“Thank you for all of the above, beautiful people in our lives. We have felt your love in our darkest moment and we feel truly blessed. Jack is doing better than we could ever have hoped and anyone who has seen how far he fell knows it’s a miracle he is here with us today.”
When a friend came round a few weeks later and saw where Jack had fallen, she said: “Your God has been tough on you.”
I looked at her in surprise and declared: “No, my God has been good to me.”
Romans 8:28 says. “All things work together for good for those who love God.” Note it doesn’t say “All things are good for those who love God.”
It’s important to acknowledge that hard times will come your way… and you aren’t expected to thank God for them, especially while you’re in the midst of it. But to be thankful in them, as 1 Thessalonians 8:13 suggests, is something else altogether.
God would never ask me to thank Him for what happened to Jack. But I found ways to be thankful in it.
That first night in hospital I thought about all the things I had to be thankful for in our darkest moment.
I was thankful for my neighbour Jenni who was there for me, no questions asked. For the ambulance officers who treated Jack on the way to hospital. For the team of doctors and nurses who gave him the highest level of care. For my mum who sat beside me for two days, so I could shower and eat and just walk outside for a moment. For my sister-in-law who travelled two hours to help look after Tyson. And, of course, I was so incredibly thankful that my Jack was alive – bruised and sore – but alive none-the-less.
It’s the ability to focus on the eternal blessings of God that gives you the strength to cope with whatever life throws at you.
Australia’s National Day of Thanks is on Saturday 26th May.
It’s an opportunity to think about all the people you have to be thankful for in your life. The ones who have helped you through your toughest moments – and to make sure you say ‘thanks.’
Visit austhanks.org.au to find out more.