By Michael Tummillo
My oldest son’s wife was pregnant. Sadly, he called me one afternoon at work to report that she had just been to the doctor and they were unable to locate a heartbeat. He said the baby would either be expelled or absorbed into its mother’s body. I visited the couple on my way home from work. She was weeping in a fetal position on the couch. He was sitting on the patio and muttered, almost inaudibly, “I really wanted this baby, Dad.”
On quite a few occasions over the years, after praying with an individual, their first comment has been, “I’ve never heard anyone give thanks for a bad situation like this!”
So it was on that day.
When I got home from my son’s house, I plopped down in my lawn chair beneath a tree. I began considering a few verses such as 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks at all times,” and Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always again I say: Rejoice!” I pondered such verses as Romans 8:28: “…all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose,” and was reminded that “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil,” (Matthew 4:1).
I began giving thanks to God. “Father, thank you for taking that unborn child, because he’s with you and I’ll meet him one day. Life on planet Earth is not ‘it’ for us; thank you for reminding me that death is a major part of life.”
I went on and on, thanking God for even the most ridiculous things. I did so until I began to laugh out loud!
I started to wonder what satan does when a Christian–one upon whose life he has unleashed a demonic assignment to kill, steal and destroy something–continually praises God in the midst of life’s darkest moments. It must drive him mad! What’s a devil to do with people who thank God for the struggle?
I think it was Conan the Barbarian who said, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” Anyway, it’s true no matter who uttered the phrase.
If Jesus Himself was led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted (tested) by the devil, why not me?
If I pray, “Lord, I want to be just like you,” am I referring only to miracles, healing and walking on water, or will I include the cruel torture of the cross? The plucking of my beard? The revealing of my nakedness before jeering, spitting throngs? The betrayal of dear friends?
I find it interesting that we thank God for testimonies but despise the tests. We hate satan with a vengeance, forgetting his ministry to the Church that forces us into a more Christ-like existence.
Since that time, I have ministered this truth to many others, often with the same results: laughter in the midst of disaster.
By the way, my son called me the very next day: “Dad, they found a heartbeat!”
That baby–my grandson, Jace–just turned 6. He’s “all boy” and an incredible blessing to anyone who knows him.
Take that, devil!
Michael Tummillo is a workplace chaplain and founder of The Church @ Work (TCAW). He lives with his wife in Stephenville, Texas.