There are times when it feels like our life is one step forward and two steps back. The problem with us as humans is that we tend to concentrate on the two steps back, not the one step forward. If you don’t learn to break it down in a positive way, you will find yourself in constant crisis mode. Early on in our journey we had to grab hold of whatever positive came our way and focus on it. It did not mean there weren’t tremendously difficult days when it seemed everything goes wrong, but in those days we would try to say, “At least our family is healthy. Thank God we have a roof over our head and a car to drive and clothes to wear and food to eat.”
How did that help us, you ask? Because the truth is that no matter how bad our situation is, there is usually someone in a worse situation, and for that alone we have something to be thankful for and someone to pray for who is in a more challenging journey then we are. The enemy wants to give you a shovel and have you dig a hole of pain so deep that you can’t find your way out of it. Our shovel was autism. For other people the shovel may be a failed marriage, financial struggles or sickness. But we decided early on that we were not going to let autism dictate our son’s destiny. I heard someone once say happiness is not something you are born with, it’s not something you earn, it’s not something given to you. Happiness is a choice. Every day we get up to make that choice to be happy. Is it easy? No. Do we feel like it? Heck no!
You have to learn to smile even in the pain, and the greatest release of stress is laughter. Even fake laughter is better than no laughter. There were times when we had to fake it to make it. We weren’t feeling it on the inside, but we refused to walk around expressing it on the outside. We weren’t going to give the enemy the satisfaction of stealing our joy. There are days when you have to learn to give thanks even when you don’t feel thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”
You see if you really want to know the anecdote to being happy in life it’s when you can give thanks even when you don’t feel like it. The enemy wants you to look at what you don’t have, God wants you to be thankful for what you do have. Many times were looking at everything that’s wrong about our lives instead of looking at everything that’s right.
We don’t know it, but many of us have already had an extraordinary day.
- If you woke up this morning with health and not illness you are more blessed than many who are sick and 1 million who will not survive this week.
- If you never experienced war, imprisonment, or starvation you are ahead of 500 million people in this world.
- At least 30 million Americans have at least one debt in collections and millions are 90 days behind on their mortgage and can’t pay their utilities, so if you have a roof over our head and heat in our home you have something to be thankful for.
- If you have $10 in our pocket you are among the top 10% of the worlds wealthy. If you made $1500 last year, you’re in the top 20% of the world’s income earners.
- If you can attend church without fear of being harassed, tortured, or arrested you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.
- If you can read this blog post you are better off than over 2 billion people who can’t read this at all.
- If you have sufficient food, decent clothes, live in a house or apartment, and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, you are among the top 15% of the world’s wealthy.
- If your son or daughter is able to get therapy for their special needs or go to a school or attend a church you are better off than most families in third world countries who have no where to get basic health care, development, and spiritual help for their children and family with special needs.
I know we all face tremendous challenges as special needs parents and I don’t want to make lite of those challenges. I just want to encourage us today to get a different perspective. God has done so much for us and if we can find the strength to smile even when were down, have the courage to be thankful even when we may not feel like it, have the faith to be happy in spite of our circumstances, we will not only overcome our challenges but we will inspire people and make the world a better place along the way. People will look at us and say if they can have all of those challenges and still smile, be thankful, and live happily than I can too.
Today let me encourage you to make this declaration; “I will choose to be happy in every situation. Even when something difficult happens I will take a breath, smile, and find something to be grateful for. I will choose the right response even when I don’t feel like it. As I do this God will give me the strength I need to rise above my circumstances and go higher than I’ve ever been before. This is my declaration!”