This morning as I was praying, God began to talk to me about being thankful. Sometimes, life’s lessons can be pretty difficult. Irregardless of how each one occurs, depending on our response, they can all end up molding a small part of us. No matter the situation, each has the ability to cause an emotional reaction and potentially define who we are as a person. And, most of the time, it is extremely difficult to feel thankful in the midst of a ‘hard thing.’ Frankly, 2013 has been a pretty tough year for us, and it has given me pause for much reflection.
Consider the Israelites. God has just led them from Egypt under the direction of Moses. They have not actively served God for a very long time, having been surrounded by pagans for hundreds of years. This ‘trust’ that God is requiring is a pretty tough thing! They have a limited amount of food and water, and He is taking them into a wilderness.
Exodus 15:23-26 says, “And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, because it was bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried to Jehovah. And Jehovah showed him a tree. And when he had cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a decree and a law for them, and there He tested them. And he said, If you will carefully listen to the voice of Jehovah your God, and will do that which is right in His sight, and will give ear to His commandments, and keep all His Laws, I will put none of these diseases upon you, which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am Jehovah who heals you.”
This is a test of your spiritual fortitude. Carefully listen and give ear to what I say. Do what is right in My sight. Keep My laws. Then, I will take care of you, for I am the One who heals you.
Oh, and by the way, this is only a test.
I perused a few more chapters following Exodus 15 just to see if the Bible records any instances of Israel’s thankfulness for God’s many provisions in the wilderness. Um…hmmm. No.
Could unthankfulness be why the Israelites ended up wandering in that same wilderness for forty years?
Let’s take a look at David, the psalmist, King of Israel, and man after God’s own heart. Some take issue with him because, frankly, he really wasn’t that great of a guy. His parenting skills lacked serious judgement, he had a difficult time being faithful, and when you peruse the Psalms, there definitely seems to be evidence of an anger problem. But when reading the scriptures that recount his life, including the psalms in which he verbally expresses all of his innermost issues, one theme is evident. God, I may be hated by everyone on earth. I may be sick unto death. I may have no place to lay my head. You may choose to turn Your back on me, but I will still give thanks unto You, for You are good.
In Psalms 77:1-9, David writes, “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times. I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.”
Oh, but read on!
“And I said, This is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High. I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God?” (Psalms 77:10-13)
So, let’s bring it down to where we all live. Our money situation is tight. You can’t seem to shake certain maladies. Their friends haven’t come around lately. Oh, and that Bible study we’ve all been teaching for months? It just got canceled because they don’t agree with us anymore.
Really, none of us are sure what the future holds, but one thing desperately seeks to be settled in our minds.
God is good, and in everything, we will give Him thanks.
My husband and I have tried to learn from each difficult thing that God allows to happen in our lives, for we definitely know the following to be true: if we don’t respond correctly the first time, the same type of situation will surely come to visit us again one day. It might look different, act different, and feel different, but the foundation of that problem won’t be any different.
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, lie, and say all kinds of evil things about you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because you have a great reward in heaven! The prophets who lived before you were persecuted in these ways.” (Matthew 5:11-12, GOD’S WORD)
The Apostle Paul also comes to mind, so I’ll let his writings in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 finish this thought: “But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (GNB)
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.“ (Matthew 10:22)
“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalms 136:1)
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)