Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Trials and Temper Tantrums

A couple of days ago I was having a little pity party for myself, by myself.  I was going over the events of the past few weeks; few months; few years; few decades (can't believe I can even say that and remember that far back) but I was relishing.

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul, Silas and Timothy are writing to the church in Thessalonica and at one point Paul states this: "Be thankful in ALL circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus"(1 Thess 5:18, NLT).   Be thankful in ALL circumstances?  Really?  So when things are going horribly in our lives, we are to give thanks for the crap that we go through?  I always understood giving thanks for the good things that happen in our lives, but why would I want to give thanks for the troubles of life?

Some people would say, "Find things to be thankful for" or "At least you are breathing".  True, we are to be thankful for these things, but these things happen each and every day and we should be thankful for those things all the time.  But the more I think about this verse, the more I think I misunderstood what Paul was saying here.  I truly believe that we are to be thankful for our hardships and difficulties that we face.

God never said that things would be easy in serving Him.  Many have given their lives for the sake of sharing the Gospel.  In one of Paul's other letters, he encourages Timothy to "endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 2:3, NLT).  He knew that the road wasn't going to be easy, but he knew that God was always going to be with him.  The author of Hebrews (who many believe to be Paul) reassures us of that when God promises that "[He] will never fail us.  [He] will never abandon us"(Heb 13:5b, NLT).  God is going with us in the good and in the bad.

Ultimately though, God controls it all.  "I create the light and make the darkness.  I send good times and bad times.  I, the Lord, am the one who does these things"(Isa 45:7, NLT).  If God sends the good times and the bad times should we not be like Job and ask the question, "Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?"(Job 2:10, NLT) or do we grumble, complain and throw a temper tantrum and be like Jonah and say, "Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live"(Jonah 4:3, NIV)? 

Let's return to my relishing for a minute.  See, I wasn't relishing in the good things that God has done for me, I was relishing in the ways that I had felt that God had dealt me an injustice.  I was having a bit of a temper tantrum of my own.  I neglected to see the way that God has shaped and moulded me into His image through those times and I chose to focus on the negative circumstances that got me to where I am now.  As I picked myself up off the floor and dusted myself off, I chose to give thanks for the trials that I face because I know that God is with me and that He will not leave me through this process called life.  He knows what is best and He is allowing these situations in my life because He knows that I need to go through them to trust Him more.  I pray that my attitude will always be that of the "good soldier" and that I am thankful that God is bringing me through for His purpose ... not mine.

Never Lose the Passion,

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