Giving Thanks In All Circumstances

January 6, 2017
by Helen Morrison

Psalm 119:71 – It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

I am a person living with a mental illness. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder many years ago, when I was in my thirties. Given the nature of the illness, I have naturally had ups and downs. Each and every day, I need to make sure that I am looking after myself properly, particularly getting enough sleep and managing stress. Over the years, I have wrestled with the stigma of having a mental illness. For the most part, I have chosen to suffer in silence rather than risk being judged or misunderstood.

As a result of my illness, I have had to lean on God, especially during bouts of depression. Although joy and laughter had disappeared, and it felt like life was not worth living, I had to press in and trust the Lord, because I had nowhere else to turn. I picked up my Bible during those long and dreary days and read the Psalms. There, I found comfort and strength that encouraged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have dealt with my own sense of shame in having bipolar disorder by reminding myself that I am fearfully and wonderfully made — faulty brain chemistry and all. Above all, I have found peace in knowing that Jesus loves me.

I have sometimes felt sorry for myself and wondered, Why me, Lord? as I suffered such losses as my career potential and fun times with my daughter when she was young. But now, I marvel at all the blessings: my daughter becoming the lovely and successful person that she is today; being able to stay in the workforce for thirty years despite having to take medical leaves at times and handling work that was often stressful, intense, and demanding; and the gift of a beautiful home and neighbourhood.

Looking back now, I see how God preserved me in my struggles and gave me the right physicians and supervisors to support me. I am also very aware that because of my experience with bipolar disorder, I know God more. My faith and trust in Him are so much stronger than they would have been otherwise. Gaining the assurance of eternal life is much more important than the temporary trials that we have to endure. With the psalmist, I can look back and say that it was good for me to be afflicted because of the abiding faith that ensued. And I am thankful for the circumstances that caused me to know God and love Him more.

We all cope with difficulties of one kind or another in this world. It can be very hard to give thanks in the midst of trying times or to see any good come from them. But even then, we can have confidence that there is something to be thankful for, although it may not be apparent until much later.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that we can rely on You in times of trouble and that You bless us in different ways that enable us to persevere and endure. Help us to recognize how You are working in our lives to bring good out of afflictions and to give us a reason to be thankful in all circumstances. Thank You for Your love for us and for Your Word that reassures us and reminds us that our hope is in You and that You are always with us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Helen Morrison <hmorriso@gmail.com>
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you for sharing. God bless you. May 2017 be a healthy year!


    Thanks and be Blessed.
    (CO)


    Thanks for your openness Helen, and for sharing this most encouraging story.


    Thank you for this. My wife is bipolar and we are going through a bad time right now.


    Wow. Thank you for your testimony and reminding us to give thanks in all circumstances.


    Happy new year Helen, thanks for your message; I am sure it will help many others suffering likewise.
    You seem to be thriving not just surviving. Praise God.


    Thank you for sharing your struggle Helen and the wonderful truth concerning God’s ableness amidst it.
    May 2017 be an especially blessed year for you and yours.


    Helen;
    Thank you so much for your message today! I found it very helpful and inspiring.
    God Bless you.


    Hi Helen:
    A most wonderful devotional, so many life lessons. It was just what I needed to read today. I lived in Victoria years ago, beautiful city, I miss it a lot. Blessings.


    Dear Helen,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I am sure many who suffer with bipolar disease will be uplifted by your testimony.
    Blessings.


    Helen:
    Thank you for the courage that you showed in writing this devotion.
    It will truly be an encouragement to many others besides myself.
    God Bless.


    Dear Helen,
    Thank you so much for your devotional. We that are not blessed with a chemical imbalance, need to know what it feels like to live with it and still walk with God. I pray God will bless you to continue writing!


    Dear Helen,
    Greetings! A very happy and healthy New Year 2017 to you.
    Thanks for sharing this amazing devotion today, it means a lot.
    We live in hope and give thanks for the Lord’s graciousness, moving forward!


    Morning Helen,
    Thank you for sharing this morning. It takes courage to be personal online but God can use us to help other people cope.
    God bless,
    (B.C.)


    Helen, what a wonderful devotion you have written for us this morning. Thank you for having the courage to be so open and honest about your situation. This will encourage others so much!! And may God continue to bless you each and everyday!!
    Again, many thanks!!


    Dear Helen:
    Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. God has also blessed you with bravery and I’m glad He did. You’re right, we all suffer from something; me from anxiety disorder among other things and God is with me too.
    May God bless you with His peace always.


    Hi Helen,
    Thank you for sharing your private journey in today’s Devotional. I deal with chronic physical ailments and so much of what you shared also rings true! You have put into words perfectly how to be thankful in all circumstances and I just wanted to reach out to let you know how much it meant to me to read them.
    (ON)


    Dear Helen: I so admire your courage on speaking out on the subject of mental illness. For far too long it has been something nobody wanted to talk about. I grew up with a mentally challenged brother whom I loved dearly and I was very defensive of him to others. I am so happy that you know who you can lean on. I have shared this devotional with someone else who needs to sorely hear your message. Thank you, and God Bless You.


    This s a very moving story. Earlier in my life I had worked with a specialist for several years. I learned so much about myself and how to manage my life and was so relieved to know I wasn’t going crazy. As I got older the symptoms decreased and I went off the meds. Now I have arthritis to deal but the principle is the same. An attitude of thankfulness and positivity is the key and looking back one can see how God has been active and continues to be.
    Good for you!


    Hi Helen,
    Thank you for sharing a bit of your story about mental illness. It was very brave of you, and very encouraging to me in a peculiar way. My former husband denied a disorder. He and I were baptized together as adults shortly after we met, having then come to a saving faith in Jesus.
    However, your post has encouraged me. Your post shows me that there are people with bipolar disorder who are good people, who strive to be faithful to God and work at it like everyone else. Suffice to say my experience could easily lead me to think all sufferers are evil, and your post shows that for the lie that it is. I have known that it is a lie from day one but it still rears its ugly head at times. Thank you for confirming it once again.
    Blessings.


    Dear Helen,
    If I may say this with loud applause, your devotional reflection is right on the money!!
    Hooray for you to share in such a gentle way your thoughts and reflection of your experiences.
    With God in our lives who can be against us.
    I too have mental health issues as well and have for years undiagnosed other than depression, anxiety, ADHD till recently and then the word used was PTSD. I am beginning to wonder if everyone does not suffer a mental illness without a label in one way or another.
    The labels one puts on us can be painful to us as we have our preconceived ideas of our condition or see reactions of others.
    I praise you so much for your devotional and in January winter months when often we all have a bit of post Christmas let down it is so timely. But in it all every day I am grateful for my faith in our Lord and his story and the BIble handy to show us we are not alone. Psalms are very filled with hope.
    WE must be good for ourselves to be good for others.
    Thank you and God bless you.
    (Ontario, Canada)


    Dear Helen,
    Thank you for your sharing, and for your encouragement. I join you in praising God for His presence in our lives.
    Blessings and peace in Christ!
    (BC)


    Dear Helen,
    What a powerful devotional for us to hear. We all need encouragement in our daily struggles and this is one of great hope and faith and trust in our Lord. Also a great reminder of how powerful being in God’s word can be. Thank you for using your time to help us all in this world.


    Bless you and thanks for having the courage to write on a tricky subject.


    Dear Helen,
    I am in awe at the way God has brought you closer to him through these years of struggle. It is true that difficult circumstances allow us to experience relationship with Him that we would otherwise never know possible.
    Your beautiful devotional has encouraged me in my circumstances of trying to walk the fine line with four different relationships among my family and special friends. All of whom I love dearly. I begin my devotions each morning with this Presbyterian devotional and yours is just what the Lord has blessed and encouraged me with today. You are truly inspired by God.
    Wishing you continued blessings through this new year and until the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ which I feel is on the horizon.
    (B.C.)


    Helen
    God bless you for your clarity of faith and candour! God’s strength and peace go with you!


    Hi Helen,
    I enjoyed your devotion and especially the prayer that God is always with us in times of trouble. One of my favorite Psalms is 46, God is our refuge and strength in times of trouble. Thank you for writing.

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