I'm thankful for lots of things. I'm thankful for my forgiveness in Christ. I'm thankful for my wife, my kids, my larger family. I'm thankful for opportunities that I have to share the "Good News" with people who don't know. I'm thankful to play even a small part in helping someone take a step closer to who Jesus Christ is calling them to become. All good stuff.
Those are things that of course each of us are thankful for. But I began to think the other day about what my answers would be if I were pressed a little harder and challenged to really sit down and process what it was that I was thankful for, I wonder if I might begin to come up with anything besides good stuff. What about all of the rough stuff that happens in life? Am I not thankful for that? Am I only thankful for blessings? Am I still as thankful and pious when things stink?
James 1:2-4 says…(NLT) “Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.”
I love the honesty of the Scripture. It's basically saying, when tough times and difficulties arrive, and they will, be ready. Jesus steps onto the scene and only confirms this idea.
John 16:33 says…(NLT) “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
Jesus says, expect tough times. That doesn't sound very comforting.
Here’s what I'm pitching: We should be thankful when we face trials and difficulties. Why? Because when we do, the Scripture tells us that our endurance has a chance to grow and it’s our endurance that allows us to finish this race with excellence. The race that we are running is following Jesus Christ wherever He leads. It’s difficult, it’s hard, it’s full of hardships and tests and trials. And when those things come our way we are faced with a choice, will I quit and walk away or will I plow through and learn how to grow from it?
It's about taking all of the stuff that Satan has thrown at us in order to trip us up, and turning it in to something that will lift God up. I'm asking you to commit to the idea that what
Satan meant to be a set back is really just a set up for God to work.
I Peter 4:1 says...(NLT) “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you are willing to suffer for Christ, you have decided to stop sinning."
Peter tells us to arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had. Some Bible translations use the word “purpose” instead of “attitude”. It reminds us that there is a reason for our suffering. In other words, our problems can have a point. Your hard times are not just random events that occur in your life. They can serve a purpose―if you allow them to.
What if we stopped viewing trials as something to get out of but instead viewed them as something to get into. What if our mindset was…
So how about you? How are you at thanking God for the tough stuff of life? Be encouraged and keep moving forward.