Timing! God has an amazing sense of timing hasn’t he? These past three weeks have been a perfect “for instance” that I will share with you. A well timed conversation with my sister-in-law left me pondering the importance of giving thanks in all things, not just the pleasant ones. In our context, we had been talking about a marriage bible study she was enjoying and growing in, and of the multi-layered blessings God gives us though such a covenant, even those we don’t particularly like. She encouraged me to see challenges as tools God is using to bless us. I left that phone conversation feeling inspired, blessed, and I must admit, happily pious. I was committed to trying it.
The concept of giving thanks in everything, the good, the bad and the ugly is by no means a new one. Think of how many times the bible mentions giving thanks. Recording these may be fruitful devotion for weeks ahead. I Thesalonians 5:18 Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, is the first I recall. Christian author, Ann Voskamp explores the discipline and blessings of giving thanks in all things further in her inspirational book, “One Thousand Gifts.”
So why do I mention timing in my devotion on giving thanks to God in all things? Because this truly wouldn’t be a story if we left it at that. Call it God’s timing, God’s providence, God’s sense of humor, God’s use of irony, or simply God’s never ending pursuit of my heart, but the day after the “give thanks in all things” conversation, with the discipline fresh on my mind, I heard together two of the most undesirable words any home maker can ever hear: BED BUGS!
After weeks of interrupted sleep, itching and blaming allergens and detergents; after weeks of spending our pennies on cremes and time researching on the internet, it was time to call in the experts. The outcome was in a word (well, two words), BED BUGS! Give thanks to God in all things? Bed Bugs? Really? Give thanks for those itchy, socially taboo, hard to eradicate, forcing us to sleep in the living room, setting traps, spending money, little blessings? Right! Thanks for vacuuming twice a day, detailing my car in 90 degree heat for three hours, washing everything we own and placing it into plastic, and averaging four hours a sleep in our family of three? Oh, God, your timing indeed!
God, Your timing, indeed! Once I got over the shell shock of what I had been and would be dealing with, once I got over my own self pity party and once I realized the timing wasn’t just a sick joke, I began to genuinely give thanks to God. Thanks, God, for reminding me the need to give thanks before the challenge arrived, sparing me from being totally overwhelmed and embittered. Thank you for the challenge that forced me to go fishing for blessings in these pesky little urchins that I must now give thanks for. Thanks for two extra family movie nights while setting traps, and a romantic evening with my husband, marooned in the living room, reminiscing about our newly wed days when we lived in a studio apartment with no bed. Thanks for teaching me how to handle the onslaught of triple the laundry and chores, and making my home business duties a happy respite from bug biz. Thanks also, in the end, that it wasn’t Bedbugs after all. What? There’s a happy shocker. When all was said and done, we confirmed Carpet Beetles and scabies, a combo which is slightly easier to eradicate, but just as labor intensive. Am I thankful at all for any of those little critters? No, but a week that could have been self pity, bitterness, crossness, exhaustion and absolute burnout, turned out to be a week of labor with the sweet sense of a good day’s hard work, a family slightly more bonded than before, a better perspective on things, a much better grasp on house work, and enthusiasm for my business than I did before.
So thank you, thank you stinky little Bed Bugs! Thanks, but don’t come back. 🙂