God does not always allow us to walk in a rose garden. Sometimes, we must walk on a dark, rocky path. Sometimes, the light He shines gets very dim. Sometimes, He doesn’t seem as near as He has been. And frankly, it stinks. I am tempted at those times to fall into a pity party, and just shut myself up in my room for however long it takes for the storm to pass. Okay, I do shut myself up. It isn’t right.
I was reading a blog this morning, and she talks entirely about living a life of Thanksgiving to God. Every day. And today, she was talking about thanking God for the hard gifts. The ones we really are not thankful for. That takes work, doesn’t it? To say, “Lord, thank You for the conflict going on right now. I know that You are going to use this for Your glory.” That is difficult. Yet, it is what we are to do.
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~I Thessalonians 5:18
The verse doesn’t just say, “In the good things give thanks…” It says in EVERYTHING give thanks. That must include things that we don’t see as good. Job knew this when he said:
Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil? ~Job 2:8
That word evil means “disaster” in this context. We like to think that God brings good into our lives, but there are indeed times when He allows disaster in as well. Why? For His purposes.
Have you ever been doing something for a child, and with each step they ask “Why are you doing that?” I have. And I cannot always answer them, because the step is part of a process that they don’t understand. I am a person who likes to know why things are happening the way they are. God is often trying to tell me, “I can’t tell you all the ins and outs of what I am doing, but just trust Me. Trust that I am doing what is right for you.”
So sometimes, God brings disaster into our lives. Do we thank Him for it?
We Christians like to quote Romans 8:28 all the live-long day, but I don’t think that most of us let it fully sink in.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
That does not mean that all good things are going to work together for good. It doesn’t mean the end result will meet our human definition of good. Remember, God’s good is far better than any good we can come up with. We often call things bad that God calls good.
Our tire goes flat – bad. Our hair goes flat – bad. Our hair goes – bad. People go – bad. That’s how we see it.
God sees it differently. He sees all things completely and fully. He sees that flat tire, or flat hair, or loved one gone, and He says, “Good.” He can, because He knows it is part of His process.
Are we willing to trust His ways completely, so that we can thank Him for all things?
Another thing: this isn’t just a rote idea of “I gotta do it”, but rather “I want to do it.” As we give thanks for all things, God will use it to cultivate thankfulness in us. We may not mean it fully at first, and we should be honest before Him about that. But as we give that thanks to God for all things, He works with what little sincerity there is. He knows that we want to be thankful, even if we are not. He will work in our hearts to the end that we will eventually mean it with utmost sincerity when we thank Him for the hard things in life. You have to start somewhere.
And so do I.
*Rocky Path picture used with permission from traveladventures.org. All rights reserved.