Rejoicing Comes in the Morning
Ryan Arnold, his wife Laurel, and their three year old daughter Brynn moved to the Red Deer area in May of 2013 and started attending CrossRoads Church soon after. In January of 2015, Ryan went to the doctor after a few isolated episodes of bad headaches and nausea. They quickly determined that he had a large, mostly inoperable, stage 4 brain tumour. After 2 brain surgeries, it was confirmed that the tumour was a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), which is the deadliest and most aggressive form of brain cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy have been ineffective, so Ryan is relying on a healthy diet, vitamins, and prayer, while remaining hopeful that he will beat this disease. The following post was originally published on Facebook by Ryan on November 5th, and we’ve shared it with his permission.
If I can be completely honest, happiness is a fleeting feeling right now. Certainly my situation has produced feelings of depression, exhaustion, fear, and anxiety. When I am told that I should not feel these feelings because I am a Christian, so my permanent smile should not be removed, this of course makes these feelings deepen. Left to linger, these feelings often turn to doubt and questioning. Despite my situation, why am I unable to feel a sustained happiness?
From what I have come to learn, happiness and joy are two different things. Not being able to differentiate between the two will cause unnecessary pain and mental anguish. I have learned that happiness is a feeling. Joy is more of a chosen state of willingness to thank God and be appreciative for everything that you do have. Regardless of how you feel. Taking that inventory and coming to the Lord in prayer and thankfulness for who He is and all that He has done for me is the imperishable root of my joy. I may not feel “happy” today, but I can choose to thank Him for His provisions in every aspect of my life. I suggest we all grab a pen and notebook and start jotting down some things we are grateful for. Start with the easy ones, such as your friends and family, your faith, which is a gift from God (Eph 2:8-9), and whichever blessings that God has bestowed upon you that you feel grateful for. Take time to thank Him for these and pray for the sustainment of these blessings. Once you have your tier one list, pray and ask God to show you what else you have been blessed with that you take for granted every day.
Here are a few that were pressed on my heart:
On demand, clean, running water: I do not have to walk 10 miles with a bucket on my head to fetch a gallon of polluted water, walk back, drink the water, get sick,and then try it again tomorrow while I am sick and vomiting.
A shelter to live in. While there are things that I love and hate about our home, I am grateful to have a place to live: I am grateful that a park bench is not my residency. Especially in the winter months when temperatures drop in Canada to uninhabitable levels and stay there for what seems to be 9 months out of the year. Like bears, Canadians seem to enter in to a hibernation type state and then re-emerge in late spring on the first warm day, eager to find an excuse to use a BBQ. This will also be the first time you see your neighbour in months, as a waking community once again comes together to assess the damage that winter has done to their houses and property.
I am grateful for my health. You read that right. Even with terminal brain cancer, partial blindness, muscle atrophy, missing patches of hair, missing memory and mental abilities. I still have slightly limited functionality in terms of walking, typing, speech, eyesight, hearing, senses of smell and touch. For this, I am grateful, as I know that many people at this moment are wheelchair bound, in a coma, or today will come down with a terrible illness without knowing Christ’s unfailing love for them and will be driven to despair.
I am grateful for telephone service and the internet: It helps me stay connected to others and to share my heart with an audience I could have never imagined prior to my illness. Sharing God’s love through Christ has been one of my privileges that I cherish. I give thanks for the time when I had a seizure and 911 had to be called, and I was picked up by an ambulance and rushed to a hospital which monitored me and offered me medicine to prevent recurrence.
I’m grateful for all of the “first world problems” that I encounter.
My fridge is too full to put the new groceries in that I bought from the store: I am grateful that I can purchase nutritious food for my family and have a place to store it safely.
Our dishwasher is broken so we have to wash the dishes by hand in our sink using dish soap and hot water: We don’t have to walk to a dirty river and “clean” our dishes next to animals drinking from the same source.
The light bulb above me right now is too bright: I am grateful for electricity. (The other light is too dim.)
I am sitting in a chair. In fact I have more chairs than people living under this roof: I have family and friends.
My pillow on my bed seems too firm at times: .I have a safe place to sleep.
I can’t decide which jacket to wear: I have adequate clothing.
I wish our garage was bigger: I have a means of transportation.
I hate our toilet! A single sheet of single ply toilet paper will no doubt clog our upstairs toilet: I am grateful to have access to a sewer system that carries sewage far away from our house, keeping us safe.
This list could go on and on…The list is only limited by your heart’s ability to show gratitude.
The truth is, I can, and you can too, no doubt look around you, and see some pretty ordinary things that this exercise will show to be extraordinary blessings. But ones you and I take for granted – let’s not do that anymore. The flip-side to all these blessings, of course, is that many in the world live without them. I may have just popped your balloon. Perhaps I am confident that God did not want me to write and share this just so we can all individually be grateful for things we now take for granted. Yes, there is merit in that, but I feel this was placed on my heart so that we have a renewed motivation to seek “those without” and help them. As we begin to realize how blessed we are, joy is manifested in knowing that we also have the opportunity to bless others and bring them joy. I pray that your heart is touched by this and that you find a way to provide for those less fortunate. Through this, I am confident you will be richly rewarded in countless ways.