I Praise God for ALL of It
[Inside: I Praise God for All of It]
Life is Hard
If I’m honest…. This last year has been a doozie. Whether you call it life… bad luck… attacks from Satan, or just things that happen because we are living in a fallen world – life has been HARD.
On their own, the things that have happened over the last year seem tolerable, manageable, even doable. Combined and unrelenting… this season has been overwhelming, defeating and sometimes scary.
That’s all. But God. If I didn’t have God on my side, God to run to, God to cry out to, and lean into… I don’t think I would have made it through. Seriously…
Here’s a run down…
- A major relationship in my family became broken beyond repair, and I chose to withdraw completely.
- We moved our kids to a new school 35 miles from our home… new building, new friends, new routines, new education, long daily drives (sometimes multiple times a day).
Hit and run accident totaling over $10k in damages. (Thank you Jesus for car insurance.) Did I mention a 35 mile commute 4 times a day? And now my car is in the shop for 2 weeks?
- Teenager issues… severe attempt by the Enemy to capture the heart and mind of my son.
- And… my husband was laid off from his job. (He is the primary breadwinner in our family.)
“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
You’re kidding, right?
Be thankful for these circumstances?
After the lay off, my husband quoted this verse to me one day. His take was that we can be thankful IN all circumstances without being thankful FOR the circumstances. He shared with me all of the things we had to be thankful for, despite our situation:
We are healthy.
- Our boys are THRIVING at their new school.
- Car insurance.
- We made it though this difficult season with our son, and we all gained a deeper understanding of the world, of ourselves, and of God’s immense love and forgiveness.
- The wise counsel of my therapist who has helped me through the broken relationship in my life.
- A generous severance package that would see us through for a reasonable amount of time until he receives a new job opportunity.
He has always been faithful in the past. He has demonstrated his goodness to us over and over. He walks through all circumstances with us.
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you [setting you on a firm foundation] and will protect and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
My husband was absolutely right. We have MUCH to be thankful for.
Then I Stumbled Across this Verse
“…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20
Wait. That verse said EVERYTHING. It didn’t say just the good stuff. EVERYTHING. Even the bad things, the difficult things, the painful things.
I was fine with being thankful IN all things. I could still find things to be thankful for even though life was hard. But to be thankful FOR even the painful and difficult things I was going through? That seems like a whole new level of thankfulness.
I had to do a little more soul searching on that one.
Then I remembered…
Have you ever noticed that when you look back on the most difficult seasons of your life, those were the times you were the closest to God? You leaned on Him more. You prayed more. You read your Bible more. And your relationship with Him deepened. You emerged from the situation a bit different. Your faith was increased. You trusted Him more, and believed His promises more.
The next time a difficult season happened, you might have been a little less frightened. You might have been a little quicker to go to God, to recount His promises and to trust Him. You knew Him better, so you trusted Him better.
“The heart can not love what the mind does not know.” Jen Wilkin
You can’t love (or trust) someone you don’t know. Deep love is developed over time through shared experiences. There are lots of ways to get to know God, like reading your Bible, praying, listening to messages, going to church, reading Christian blogs (like this one ;)).
The Bible never promised an easy life just because we are Christians. In fact, I believe God uses this painful life to mold my character and draw me to himself. He wants more than anything for His children to know him better, rely on him more and to become more like Him. Sometimes, (most times) those goals can only be achieved during painful circumstances – (that’s usually when I am the most attentive to his guidance.) His immense love for me causes him to work in mighty ways during my darkest days.
Relationship is EVERYTHING
As I looked back over my life, I remembered the times of trials and hard seasons. For the most part, it wasn’t the fear or pain I remembered. The things I remembered the most were the lessons I learned about God. I remembered the ways in which He met me where I was and provided for more than just my physical needs. I remembered that He never left me; how I sensed His presence. He let me lean on Him… He ENCOURAGED me to lean on Him. He calmed my fears and gave me peace that truly did surpass my understanding. He showed Himself to me, and I saw Him for who He truly is. Intimacy between He and I grew. Looking back, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade those difficult seasons for anything in the world. I knew Him better. I loved Him more.
My circumstances are ultimately temporary; my relationship with Jesus is FOREVER. That is something to be thankful for – regardless of what I have to go through to get there.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10
My circumstances are ultimately temporary; my relationship with Jesus is FOREVER. Click To Tweet
You know, I think I just might be able to be thankful FOR all circumstances. I might not enjoy my circumstances, but I can be thankful for them.
I am thankful because I know that even in this hard season, God has never left me. I know that even if things get worse, God will still be with me.
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 3:5b
I am thankful because I know that God is working for my good. Even through these trials are difficult, God is working out something good in my life, in my character, in my relationship with Him.
“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.” Romans 8:28
I am thankful because I know that God is all powerful. He has complete control even over this situation. It will not go further than He can see. If I can trust God with my eternal salvation, I can trust Him with my tomorrow.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
A Legacy Worth Imitating
A few weeks ago I was digging through some boxes and came across my grandmother’s journal from 1996 – the year my dad died. She wrote just a few sentences every day; sometimes about the weather, or who stopped by to see her that day, or whose birthday it was. On the day of my dad’s funeral there was a short entry. She didn’t elaborate on the details of the day, or who was there, or really how she felt. What she did write touched me deeply, and spoke truth to my heart exactly when I needed it. She wrote,
“It was a good day. It was a terrible day. And I praise God for all of it.”
Even in the terrible circumstances of my Dad’s death and funeral, my grandmother could still “give thanks in all circumstances.”
My grandmother passed away one year after my Dad. I am forever grateful for the entry she wrote in her diary that day, over 20 years ago. Her legacy of faith shows me that it is possible. She lived out the gospel. And so can I.
I can, because I have God IN me. HE will help me.
I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:1-2, 5
We CAN Praise God for ALL of It
If I can do it, you can too, friend. Start simple. Begin by being thankful IN your circumstances. Find something to be thankful for every day. Repeat those things to yourself, and thank God for them in your prayers. Once you get started, I am confident you will think of more and more to add to the list.
Then, remember your past. When have you gone through hard things, and how did the Lord grow you in those times? What did you learn about Him? How did your faith in Him increase? Remember, and ask Him for more growth in this new season. Anticipate the new ways in which He is going to show himself to you. Thank Him for the ways your faith is going to be strengthened. Be confident that He is with you, even now. These are the reasons you can be thankful FOR your circumstances. (Remember, we’re not thankful we have to suffer these things. But if we are suffering, we are thankful that even so, God is at work.)
We can do this. One step at a time. Expect progress, not perfection. It’s a day by day thing for me, and probably for you too. We’ll get through it because our hope and security isn’t in the job or the money, the relationship, our health, or our things. Our hope, now and for eternity, is in Christ alone.
Read more about how to have HOPE during the painful times in your life here…
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