“Do everything without complaining and arguing,”
~ Philippians 2:14 NLT
It turns out, my breathing problems, extreme fatigue, and upper body swelling after open-heart surgery were caused by a blocked vein called the Superior Vena Cava (SVC). Basically, my blood flow was restricted from my heart to the rest of my body from scar tissue where my port (internal IV connected to main artery) was placed 14 years prior from my chemotherapy treatment.
This type of scar tissue is not normal, and typically does not affect other patients.
Yet, we had hit another hiccup, one that drove me into a rather laughable despair considering the crazy medical journey I had been on. Sometimes it’s the little reminders we need to focus on, because our plans—the perfectly laid out ones—change. And normally when this happens, a string of complaints follows.
The week before Thanksgiving in 2015, our paid for, generously donated minivan (thanks, mom) needed repairs. Yet right before my SVC stent surgery, we had fixed the broken tie rod and had realigned the wheels, but now the tie rod was broken again. Two new tires, another new tie rod, and another alignment later, we spent $600 for my old van to drive safely.
But I hadn’t planned for major repairs.
I had planned on shopping on Black Friday, much like the rest of the normal people in the United States. Because we only used cash at the time, this was going to be the first Christmas I could shop those special sales for my kids.
I felt the uneasiness creep in that night as I balanced our account. I love numbers, spreadsheets, and planning. But I don’t like when unexpected things rearrange my strategy.
Then my husband walked through the door in a chipper mood until he noticed me sulking on the couch, which pretty much sobered the night for both of us.
I complained, of course.
Complained that the dumb repair cost more than we imagined. And you know what he had the nerve to say?
“At least we have the money to pay for it.”
Of course, he’s right. Praise God we had the funds to pay for it. We had spent 10 years climbing out from under $150,000 in medical debt, he reminded me. But I wasn’t done huffing yet.
After my wallowing ended, it dawned on me. I’ll always have something I can grumble about.
God knew this.
Why else would he have to put verses in the Bible to tell us to do all things without complaining? Why? Because whiny complainers like me need reminders. Philippians 2 continues in verse 15 telling us to live innocent lives, shining like bright lights in a world full of broken people.
Only, at this point, I was more like a short-circuited light, desperately trying to flicker back on.
What should I have done?
Instead of saying, “The repairs cost $600!” I should have thanked God for the reserved money to fix our vehicle, or the donated funds to pay for my pricey heart surgery, or even the free used van that was generously donated to us over six years prior.
And isn’t it just like a loving Father that later that night after thumbing through the mail, I opened my surgeon’s bill for my most recent SVC stent surgery (a bill that should have cost roughly $5,000 for my surgeon’s fee alone), and our balance due was $63.56.
Do everything without moaning, I reminded myself.
Because I was no longer in a hospital bed.
I finally remember what year we were living.
And praise God that on this particular day, our bills were paid, even though our bank account was empty.
What about you? Is there a grumbling habit you need to alter?
If so, try to pinpoint those areas where God has already shown up and create a memorial of sorts. I know you’ve started to jot down these special moments in your journal, but I’ve stumbled upon another habit mentioned in the Bible that helps to remind me of the good things in life that God has already done. I started jotting down past miracles, along with somehow surprise, by scribbling bits of the story along smooth stones with a permanent marker. These stones are displayed on my coffee table as an altar of remembrance of past victories (Joshua 4:1-7), and they constantly remind me of how God showed up for each hurdle. This helps squash my grumbly heart when I hit these unexpected bumps.
We all need these little reminders of where the Lord showed up in our past so we can trust Him in the present.
Whether it’s writing the event on a rock, or using a dry erase marker documenting the mini-victories along your mirror, or a wall of sticky notes, today create a monument of your mini-wins to remind you that He’s right there with you, guiding you and loving you through the ickiness.
Yes, do everything without complaining. Let’s focus on the good, because if we look hard enough, we’ll always find the bad.
Write down where God has shown up below. Then when you have a moment, jot these notes in your journal or imprint these reminders on a rock to create your own memorial:
Write these mini-victories out as a praise to Him today:
“Faith tells me that no matter what lies ahead of me, God is already there.”
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
~Psalm 46:1 NLT
“(Joshua) told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the Lord your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
~ Joshua 4:5-7 NLT
As always, if you find a typo or you had to read something twice to understand what I was saying, please comment and let me know. I’ll even include your name in the acknowledgement section of this devo once I’m finished writing the book.
In His hands (always),
PS To subscribe to the blog to receive future posts, click here. To send me the biggest virtual hug, click on this underlined link to leave an honest review on Amazon of When God Intervenes. Best. Gift. Ever. (I know. That was a shameless plug. But I’ve been told that reviews help guide others to the book. I’d love to encourage as many recovering patients as I can and spread a little hope. As always, I’m so thankful for you guys. xoxo)