Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Learning to be Thankful in Everything

During the month of November we having been talking about Thanksgiving in All Things at Highland Oaks. Each week what we study in Bible class and what is brought to us from the pulpit challenges me. I am very thankful to God. But am I thankful in everything?

It's really easy to be thankful when things are going well; but what about when things aren't going well. What about when you pray and pray about a situation, but you don't "see" God working. Not that he's not working, but you can't see it. You continue to pray day after day, month after month, year after year and yet you don't see any answers. Do I thank God in those times?

It's easy to be thankful when things are going well. But when things aren't going so well and in fact are going down right horrible, it's a lot harder to be thankful. In those times it's a lot easier to be angry at God, it's easy to feel hurt and feel like God isn't listening. But it's really hard to be thankful. It's sometimes hard to find things in the midst of turmoil, trials and struggles to be thankful for.

We talked Sunday in class about how people have been thankful when they were in a situation in which there was nothing to be thankful for. People who were on their way to bury a stillborn child and wondering how in the world they were going to get through it. And then they looked outside to see the most beautiful sunset they had ever seen and knowing it was God telling them that He was with them. And later getting pictures in the mail from someone who had been looking at the exact same sunset and took pictures of it knowing that God had sent that sunset for the person who had lost their child. Lynn Anderson talked in the sermon about a man who as a child had lived on the streets with no parents, who was always in trouble. One day while he was getting ready to throw some type of fireworks into some people's houses just to see if they could catch them on fire he had one blow up in his hand and it made him permanently blind. He now thanks God everyday for his blindness because a Christian family took him in and showed him what God was all about. They loved and cared for him and put him through preaching school. He now preaches God word. So he says he thanks God everyday for his blindness. It was a powerful day.

We talked also about taking every situation and asking ourselves "How will God be glorified through this situation? How will God use this situation for good? How is He going to reveal Himself? " Let me tell you, when you are in the middle of a situation, it's not easy to ask yourself how God is going to be glorified through it, how will He use it for good or how is he going to reveal Himself. It's not easy when you are in the middle of a situation to find the ways you need to thank God. But I'm going to try. I'm going to try to look for and be aware of the things I need to be thankful for no matter how dark the moment may seem. I'm going to try and be aware of the sunset, or the leaves falling, or the cool breeze that God may send my way to remind me that He is right there; that He hasn't left me.

God tells us he will never leave us and he will never forsake us. Sometimes in the middle of turmoil we forget that. I'm going to try and remember He's always there... and Be Thankful.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Psalm 73:21-24

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18



Lynn Leaming said...

Great post Liz. Filled with such truth. I have to constantly remind myself of those truths. I am so thankful that I have a God who is ALWAYS faithful to keep His promises.

Anonymous said...

I am in the middle of one of these types of struggles that has lasted for years. I tried for the first several years to look for the positive and to look to God, but now with the struggle of getting the same thing thrown at you time and time again, year after year, making it not only hard on you but your family as well... making your husband question too. It just all seems too much. I don't have anything left in me to find the good things anymore. The fight has been mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical for over 6 years now. I am beat and I have nothing left inside of me. How do you overcome something like that? How do you find something to thank God for when you completely and utterly believe he has either turned his back on you or allowed this to happen to you time after time? I see no way of ever restoring my faith in him again. As I said above, I am empty.

Liz Moore said...

Dear Anonymous,

Believe it or not, I know what you mean. There are times when you pray and pray and you just don't think God is listening anymore. Sometimes you wonder why bother. And when you hear people talking about just pray about it and everything will be ok, it just seems like such a pat answer. And sometimes you just want to scream, you are not walking in my shoes. You read scriptures like Jeremiah 29 that says "I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." And you wonder where God is and why you are still being harmed. Being thankful is not easy in those situations and sometimes it's really hard to be thankful in the middle of struggle. While I sometimes can't be thankful for where I am, or even the struggle I'm facing, I am trying to be thankful for other things that are going right in my life. I'm trying to find one thing that makes sense and be thankful for that if nothing else. And I'm trying to thank God for what I will learn or for what good may come out of my circumstance even if it isn't something good for me. And I'm trying to thank God for whatever it is he's trying to teach me. It's not easy, it's a daily struggle. But I have to make a choice each and every day and choose how I will look at whatever I face each day. My heart goes out to you, I understand your struggle with questioning God. But I have to have faith in the God I love and the promises He makes and trust that someday He will make things right, even if it's not anytime soon. It's my faith that makes me look for something to be thankful for even if it's not being thankful for that particular circumstance right now. Blessings to you. I will be praying for you.