It is astounding how good it feels to place cold ice on a burn or soothing ointment on a cut. These don't make the injury disappear, but they do make them easier to bear. There are situations and experiences in life so painful and difficult, that we feel nothing could make them easier, but these are feelings and not the truth.
There is a balm, or comfort for our hearts and souls when suffering breaks into our lives. It is called thankfulness. Thankfulness, however, in the middle of suffering does not come easily. Difficult, and prolonged burdens can so overshadow the blessings that if we are not careful, we will fail to notice them at all.
The times when my husband’s life hung in the balance, when a trusted church member viciously turned on us, and when my heart was in great sadness for a family member were all periods that felt beyond my strength to carry. Some days it would have been easy to let my emotions take over and simply sink into a dark pool of sadness, worry, and uncertainty. I have been in that pool before, and I don't like it. That is why I have learned to apply the balm of thanksgiving and direct my thoughts to the Lord, and the blessings He is giving in the middle of unwanted, painful situations.
During my husband’s illness, we were blessed with a modern, clean, equipped hospital with caring, qualified doctors; in many countries, this would not be possible. The betrayal of the church member taught me to keep my focus on Christ and not on people and taught me to forgive. The blessing from being grieved for my family memeber has taught me to pray, trust, and believe God will work whether I see it or not. I am learning to love unconditionally.
The list could go on and on, but at the very top, I am thankful that I do not have to have all the answers. I don't have to know what the future will bring or how these events fit into God’s plan for me. The balm that soothes my heart the most is simply thanking God for being with me and having all things under control. I am thankful He is my loving Father and never makes a mistake or leaves me alone.
Rerunning past events or sorting through all the "what if's" only intensifies the pain. Setting my focus on the Lord and thanking Him daily for even the smallest blessings lifts my heart and spirits. It also enables me to be a blessing to others.
I know there are situations of suffering beyond my imagination and more difficult than mine, but one thing is the same: the balm of thanksgiving. Try it, and you will be amazed at the relief your heart will experience.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.” Psalm 103:2