Thankful…Really!

A few days ago, the sermon premise was to be thankful despite circumstances.  The text was Matthew 14:22+.  I also alluded to James 1 – “Consider it pure joy my brothers…” and mentioned 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “…give thanks in all circumstances.”  About halfway through the sermon, Job also came to mind, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.  The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” 1:21.

I was aware of some people in the congregation dealing with new challenges that at first glance seem insurmountable.  However, the sermon text and premise was set weeks ago.  I’ve always made it a point to preach without having someone or their specific need in mind.  In fact, I approached one and told them the premise of the sermon prior to Sunday, in an effort to alleviate the thought that the sermon was about their particular situation.

After the service was over, I was approached by a few people who mentioned how it spoke to situations in their lives – many of which I was unaware.  I’m often amazed at how God works and I felt blessed.  I continue to pray that God alone gets the glory.  I was also approached by someone who has been a believer for many years.  This particular person said something like (I can’t recall their exact words.), “I know what you were saying.  But is that really possible?  Can we really say what Job said?  I’m not sure I can thank God when something horrible happens.”  It was at this point that they mentioned a horrific tragedy in their own life.  This person was still struggling with something that happened months ago.

So here’s where you come in.  Is it really possible to have the faith that Job displayed?  Can we truly be thankful in ALL circumstances?  Or is that just a pious way of looking at things?  We know what the text says.  There’s no argument as to the words on the page.  But is it really possible?  Or are we kidding ourselves?

I’ve got my own thoughts.  What about you?

 

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6 Responses to “Thankful…Really!”

  1. Jamie Cunningham Says:

    I agree that scripture tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. It’s easy to be thankful when the seas are calm. But in the storm? Jesus is our model, in Matthew 26:36fff, Jesus takes his disciples to Gethsamane and asks them to sit and pray and he went off alone and fell to his face and prayed “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. From there he faced trial, was whipped, spit on and humiliated and crucified.
    If the Son of God went through his storm who am I to ask for less. God Is Good All The Time and All The Time God Is Good!
    In our human strength it can’t be done but if we keep our eyes totally on Jesus and not on the storm, All Things Are Possible!

    • “Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Wow! That’s an often looked at/quoted text. But do we really understand how big that is?

      I think you make a good point. With God, all things are possible. It’s important for us to remember that Job, Paul, and of course Jesus were real. In other words, these aren’t just cool stories. They can thank God for the storm and through the storm.

      Thanks for the thoughts.

  2. I think that during a difficult circumstance it is difficult to “throw a party”… Yes, Job did say that he came into the world with nothing and will return with nothing – but even though he said this, he still cried – he still ached for the loss of his children.

    And even Jesus too cried out in the garden “take this cup away from me… but only if it is your will”…

    God knows human hurt. God knows human love. And I think he treasures us and every moment that we go through. As we journey in our relationship of truly knowing Christ, we love and treasure God just as well – despite all things…

    However, it is difficult when I think of the child who is being abused or molested… what relationship can they have with God other than the one that perhaps their parents have taught them? Should a child thank God for those circumstances or does he have the right to cry out to God and accuse Him of not being there to protect him? Can a mother throw a party at the slow murder of her son? No… I don’t think God would expect this, because he knows how we are… but, still, we too should know how He is…

    I think that in knowing the wretched man that we are, God grieves with us… and He will not turn away from our pain… we can be broken but we will be restored if we can allow God to do that in our lives and our circumstances, and accept that even if restoration does not happen in this life, that it will be made perfect in the next life… of that we should have no doubt and because of that – we rejoice…

    There is so much to say… but in the end, because of love, we are obedient and stand firm…I think of Abraham being obedient to the point of almost sacrificing his only son…we too must believe and know that God knows more than we do.

    • Thanks for reading M. I think you make several valid points.

      Because we live in a broken world, there is always going to be suffering and pain. However, I think what James is pointing out is the opportunities we have to grow, rather than crawl off into the fetal position and give up. Scripture clearly says God will not allow more than we can endure. But our faith will only grow if we choose to get out of the boat. Jesus Himself said, “Blessed are you when people persecute you and say all kinds of things falsely about you because of me. REJOICE AND BE GLAD…”

      You use the example of a abused/molested child. It’s important that we remember James is speaking to those in the Church – those who claim to be mature. There’s a huge difference.

      You said, “Can a mother throw a party at the slow murder of her son? No… I don’t think God would expect this, because he knows how we are… but, still, we too should know how He is…” Again, there is always suffering. David cried out to God many times. HOW LONG O LORD? The point is not the suffering. The point is knowing that all things are temporal. Do we grow or do we give up? It’s about perspective. A follower of Christ with strong faith would grieve but know one day they will see their son once again. Please understand, I’m not making light of suffering in this world.

      I too want to have the faith of Job or that of Abraham. When God calls, I want to answer with no hesitation. Perhaps I should have used a different word picture than “throw a party.” Thanks for reading.

  3. Whats cool is that God gives us endless hope and love in scripture during good and difficult times. I can choose to sink in Satan’s misery or I can get with God and persevere knowing his promise is set in stone. 2 Peter 1:5 gives us a great example of pressing forward in our faith, Satan wants us to sit down and give up in storms, when God knows that opportunities for discipleship in the storm gives us power and grace. When we are in the storm and we see Gods magnificent work we are continually filling ourselves with his promise. I really liked “dance in the rain” as an example Sunday. I know when we are in the middle of the storm it is possible to not be afraid of the wind and the waves and focus on what God has intended for us. His eternal promise is really the big picture!
    2 Peter 1:6
    and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; (patient endurance amongst sufferings)

    • Yes Diane. We can CHOOSE. Great point! It’s about perspective.

      And the circumstances surrounding us at any particular time can’t be allowed to define who we are. As followers of Christ, we must KNOW and OWN the end. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

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