We’ve talked about some heavy-hitting subjects lately on Your Hope Filled Perspective Podcast, and here on the blog. Recently, I chatted with Michele Howe about how to be grateful when our circumstances are not good. If you haven’t listened to that episode, I hope you do and I hope it’ll encourage you.
In today’s post, Michele shares how an attitude of grace-filled gratitude encourages us to persevere. Practical steps to walk in faith can break the chains of worry with God’s grace. Learn the simple yet powerful “Stop, Drop, and Roll” formula that will help you combat fears, leave burdens at the feet of Jesus, and face the future with confidence.
Be sure to read to the end for a book giveaway!
How an Attitude of Grace-filled Gratitude Encourages Us to Persevere
By Michele Howe
But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12: 9, 10
God gives us His grace in the hour we need it. If we worry about the future now, we double our pain without having the grace to deal with it.
Mandy sat styling her ten-year-old daughter Kensie’s hair into a French braid with all the attention she could muster. Unbeknownst to Kensie, Mandy kept a close watch on the time and felt her insides tighten the nearer it came to her daughter’s oncologist’s office to open. Mandy’s deft fingers had been creating visual masterpieces from Kensie’s long, thick hair since she was three-years-old. She has always loved having me braid her hair before any special occasion, Mandy remembered bitter sweetly. And today is the day we’ll get the results of all those new tests. Tests that may indicate another painful round of chemo is necessary. Mandy started to think about the what ifs of this most recent series of complicated and sometimes painful medical procedures that would certainly determine their family’s future for the upcoming months.
Gulping back an urge to cry, Mandy finished by securing the hair band at the bottom of Kensie’s braid. “All done! Take a look in the mirror. What do you think?” Mandy said as she passed the handheld mirror to her daughter. Getting up and facing the bathroom mirror, Kensie studied the back of her head. “Oh Mom, it’s perfect! Thank you. I’m going to Jayne’s now to wait for the other girls to arrive for the party,” Kensie announced happily. “Don’t forget Jayne’s birthday present and card!” Mandy reminded.
Alone now, Mandy placed the comb, mirror, and other accessories back into the drawer and gazed at her reflection in the mirror not liking what she saw. I look awful. My hair is limp. My eyes have dark circles under them. I’ve lost weight. I guess the mirror is just being honest. It’s reflecting all that I’m feeling on the inside. Lord, help me get through this day. Mechanically checking her phone again, Mandy went downstairs to the kitchen to begin lunch preparations for her husband Jack and herself.
Absentmindedly, Mandy pulled out the makings for sandwiches and a fruit salad. Rinsing, cutting, chopping, and tossing into a bowl, Mandy set the fruit salad aside and then checked her phone yet again for any messages, alerts, or missed calls. Nothing. Heart rating increasing with every minute that passed, Mandy took another deep breath and tried to calm down. What is Jack’s advice to students who are faced with a fire emergency? It was three short steps. Stop, drop, and roll. That’s it. Jack always tells children that if they are faced with a fire emergency to first stop, then drop to the floor and roll until the fire is out.
Lord, can I apply this same formula right here, right now? You know how worried I am about this newest series of test results for Kensie. I’m frightened that her cancer has come back. She’s only been in remission a little less than two years. And her beautiful hair is finally long enough for me to braid again. I’m scared of what I’m going to hear when the doctor’s office phones today. I need to stop worrying. I need to drop all my worries into your faithful hands. I need to roll off every bit of frightening what ifs I’m anxious about. Help me, Lord. Please help me.
* * *
Worrying doubles our pain
“God gives us His grace in the hour we need it. If we worry about the future now, we double our pain without having the grace to deal with it.” The weightiness of this quotation grips my heart every time I stop to consider the implications of the destructive power of worry. It is true. When we worry (and we all worry), we suffer twice because Jesus tells us he gives us the grace and strength we need in the moments we require it. Not before we need it. Not after we need it. But precisely when we need it.
And who amongst us hasn’t traveled along the same mental lines as Mandy as she impatiently waited for the results of her daughter’s medical tests? Like Mandy, haven’t we all indulged in those disastrous what if imaginary scenarios that quickly spiral out of control and take us to dark places in our minds? And the saddest part is this, when we allow our thoughts to start spiraling out of control we almost always are imagining our future without God in it. No matter how difficult the coming days may be, when we place ourselves facing a scary future without God, we’ve already suffered once. And without God, a mighty suffering it is.
Jesus tells his followers to look to the sky, look to the birds, and take note of how God takes immeasurable care for each of them who neither toil or spin. God provides for their every need. Jesus wants his brothers and sisters in the faith to take heart and remember when they are called to face suffering in any shape or form that God will be present to grace them with his supernatural strength and power to endure.
Practical steps to walk in faith: Stop, Drop and Roll
Come what may, Jesus doesn’t want us to have to suffer twice. We don’t need to suffer twice! How can we avoid this mental mind trap that tempts us to predict a dismal and disastrous outcome even before one occurs? We stop ourselves from going down the unbiblical thinking road of unbelief that imagines our future without God in it. We drop to our knees and leave our worries, cares and burdens with the Lord. We roll out every future scary eventuality into the faithful arms of Jesus knowing that he will carry us if need be. Stop. Drop. Roll. Yes, we can do this…one thought, one worry at a time.
Take-away Action Thought
When I begin to worry about an unknown future event, I will remember to stop, drop, and roll. I will implement this three step faith-infused, grace-filled formula each and every time I need to combat my fears.
My Heart’s Cry to You, O Lord
Father, Today I am facing what could be disastrous news for my loved one. I admit that I am struggling with thoughts of worry and fear. I don’t want my dear one to have to suffer again. My mind is full of fear ridden memories of painful past events and I feel overwhelmed it could happen again. Please help me to stop myself from going down this road of unbelief where I am imaging my future without you in it. Your word tells me you will give me the grace and strength and power I need when I need it and not before. I want to stop my habit of suffering twice because I worry. Please help me to keep my mind on you, Jesus. Keep me in perfect peace because I trust in you. Amen.
Practicing Gratitude and Grace
- Gratitude and grace from God – My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. When I awaken in the morning, I will thank the Lord for the grace he has promised me for this day. I will face the day with a faith-infused, grace-filled expectation that no matter how this day unfolds, it is under the careful administration of my heavenly Father and he promises to equip me to face whatever challenges arise.
- Gratitude and grace in me – That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. Each evening this week, I will spend a few minutes revisiting my day and reflect upon God’s grace at work within me. I will not worry or fret about my lack of strength. Rather, I will look to God to supply me with everything I require, at every hour, to accomplish what he has set before me.
- Gratitude and grace in life – Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. As I consider my relationships with others, I will remind myself that everyone is in need of compassion and kindness. I’ll not think more highly of myself, but pray for a humble and contrite heart knowing that I have many glaring weaknesses of my own that God is thankfully still at work on inside of me.
About Michele Howe
Michele Howe is the author of more than two dozen books and has published over 2500 articles and reviews on parenting, women’s issues, and the empty next. Some of her books include Empty Nest: What’s Next?, Parenting Children without Losing Your Mind, and Finding Freedom and Joy in Self-Forgetfulness.
In conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Michele is giving away a free copy of her book, Grace & Gratitude for Everyday Life.
Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about how an attitude of gratitude can help you persevere and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of his book.
You could also share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.
The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, December 4, 2023. Continental United States only.