Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Thankful for what?

Sorry that I haven’t posted…but I needed to give some undivided time to the most important people in my life…my wife and kids. So I ponder about this holiday season…thanksgiving…

Scottish minister Alexander Whyte was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something to be thankful for. One Sundaymorning, the weather was stormy and dark. And one of the deacons said, "The preacher won’t be able to thank God for anything on a day like this. It’s absolutely horrible outside!"But much to his surprise, Rev. Whyte began the service by praying, "We thank thee, O God, that it is not always like this." Rev. Whyte understood that we should thank God no matter what! Because the same God who rules the universe when times are good is the same God who rules the universe when times are not so good. And God always has reasons and motives and purposes for why he does what he does.Having said that, when I hear Paul say, "Give thanks in all circumstances,"there’s a part of me that wants to say, "Paul, wake up and smell the coffee!What do YOU have to be thankful for? You’re in danger every single day ofyour life. You’ve spent years and years in prison because of your faith. Youthrew away a thriving career as a Pharisee. And look what you have to showfor it! Nothing!"And yet, it’s right there in the scriptures: "be joyful always, praycontinually, give thanks in all circumstances." For me I need to remember a few things.

I need to remember that God is at work in our lives even when times are bad. In 1 Thessalonians 1:6 Paul says to them, "in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." In other words, as harsh as your life has become, God is still at work in your community!

Romans 8:28 says that "in ALL things God works for the good of those wholove him." God uses even our most dismal circumstances to bring glory tohimself, and accomplish his purposes on the earth. So we should thank Godeven for the hard times in life?It was Jim Bakker, of 80’s religious scandal fame who said, "it was the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me critical distance from my crazy life. I was able to look at things. And see how wrong I was. And get back to walking with God."Michael J Fox, who has Parkinson’s Disease said "if you made a deal withGod that he would take away my Parkinson’s disease and cancel out the lastten years of my life, I would tell you to take a hike. My life is so goodnow. I’m helping a lot of people cope with the stigma of this disease. Andit makes me appreciate life as a precious gift."Does GOD use our hardships so that we can relate to others? Do we really need to thank God for those rough times?

2 Corinthians 1:4 says that God comforts us in all our troubles so that wecan comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. So thank God for our troubles! Honestly, our problems will not last forever.

Thank God for what you still have. I just got this email the other day. And it goes like this: "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the six million who will not survive the week.If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness ofimprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you areahead of 500 million people in the world.If you can attend a church service without fear of persecution, arrest,torture or death, you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.If you have food in the fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head,and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world.If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet, and spare change in adish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy."That’s something to think about during Thanksgiving. We might be sad or have some serious issues in our lives, but we should never forget how much GOD has blessed us, either…and that things could always be worse.

1 comment:

curly said...

Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

this verse has been ministering to me a lot lately. as i live through the hardest two years (and counting!) of my life, as i watch my parents stuggling, and the suffering of others that i love - through all of this, this verse keeps coming to mind. right now, this may be perhaps the most profound thing about heaven to me: that all that's gone on here can't even compare to it.

but, even better, some of that glory may be revealed in the here and now, before i even get there.

perspective is a powerful thing...