Thankful In Everything, Not For Everything
One Sunday morning at a small southern church, the new pastor called one one of his older deacons to lead in the opening prayer. The deacon stood up, bowed his head and said, 'Lord, I hate buttermilk.' The pastor opened one eye and wondered where this was going. The deacon continued, 'Lord, I hate lard.' Now the pastor was totally perplexed. The deacon continued, 'Lord, I ain't too crazy about plain flour. But after you mix 'em all together and bake'em in a hot oven, I just love biscuits. Lord help us to realize when life gets hard, when things come up that we don't like, whenever we don't understand what You are doing, that we need to wait and see what You are making. After you get through mixing and baking, it'll probably be something even better than biscuits.'"
I could relate to this story not just because I love biscuits but also I can look back on some very tough times that I hated having to go through. Now that I am on the other side I see how God used it all to make something beautiful! It is so beautiful that I told God thank you for letting me go through those tough times to make me closer to Him. There are times we watch our parent, spouse, kids go through hard times and we want to fix it. I would rather me suffer than them but we do not get to pick and choose. What I do know is that God will use those circumstances to make something beautiful in their lives. Ecclesiastes 3: 11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end."
We will have trouble! Jesus said we would have trouble in John 16: 33. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." And Jesus understands our feelings, even He suffered! Hebrews 4: 15, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." But these troubles can bring us closer to Jesus!
We do not have to be thankful for everything but we are called to be thankful IN everything. 1 Thessalonians 5: 18, "...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." That means if we have lost our job, having financial struggles, received a scary diagnosis, lost a relationship, etc we do not have to be thankful for that particular circumstance but we are to be thankful IN all things. We give thanks to God for all of His blessings. We can thank God because we know that He has promised to be with us. Hebrews 13: 5, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
God can use our times of suffering to draw us closer to Him. James 1: 2-3, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." God can use all of our circumstances for our good. Romans 8: 28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
When we face tough times and trials we need to remember two verses. Joshua 1: 9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1: 5, "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." If our troubles cause us to depend more on God then that is the very reason why we thank Him for hard times! When the apostle Paul had a thorn in his flesh he said, "Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."
Your troubles may end up being a testimony that someone else needs to hear! If we did not have tribulation, we would not need comfort that God gives. 1 Peter 4: 12-13, "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed." If you are going through hard times go ahead and thank God for what He is going to do with your mess! He will make it a message! 1 Chronicles 16: 34, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."