High school graduation of May 2000 was excruciating. I served on our local school board and one of our ceremonial roles was to distribute diplomas to the graduates as they saunter across the stage enjoying a well-deserved moment in the spotlight. Exuberance for most was agony for me.
Catie should have been in that class. I shook hands with her classmates and childhood friends, all the while wondering what life would have been like without leukemia.
High school graduation was a dream unfulfilled, but so were many other hopes and plans. No driver’s license, no college, no career, no wedding, no. . . .
Focusing on our loss and complaining about what we do not have robs us of the joy and celebration we can experience for the gifts we’ve been given. Too many wasted years downstream, I realized I seldom thanked God for the nine wonderful years He shared Catie with us. When we only look at what we don’t have, we miss the every-day evidence of God’s abundant blessings.
More than 5,000 people listened to Jesus teach all day. They were hungry and there was no food. Well, almost no food. One boy offered his small lunch. The disciples looked at the huge crowd and their meager resources and had a solution: Send them away! (Mark 6:36)
Jesus had a better idea. He took the boy’s small lunch in His hands, looked up to heaven, and gave thanks. Jesus was not overwhelmed by the challenge or frustrated by what He did not have. He gave thanks to God for the little gift in His hands.
Several years ago, I began thanking God for the nine years Catie was with us. I tried to consciously stop grousing about the years that I felt had been lost. I thanked God that I had two daughters, and God had allowed me to keep one. I thanked God that Cay was there to be my lifeline when the undertow of self-pity tried to drag me down. I thanked God for opportunities to share what I had learned with others in similar, painful circumstances.
Thanking God for five loaves and two fish brought fulfilment and abundance to 5,000 hungry people. And thanking God for nine years, two daughters, a wonderful wife, and opportunities to serve provides the perspective I need. Gratitude changes everything.
Refueling in Flight Ministries, Inc