Summary: Reasons why Christians can find things to be thankful for even in hard times
BEING THANKFULIN HARD TIMES
“Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and said; ‘This is My blood’.”
This week on the Today Show (November 2009) there was a young mother whose face had been disfigured in a plane crash and she was in the midst of many needed operations. Her little girl was asked how it all affected her and she said, “Mommy is nicer now.” This mother had received the blessing nobody wants, but all of us need; the blessing of pain. It is easy to sing God’s praises when all is going well; but what about when life caves in and our hearts are breaking? Scripture says we are to seek to be grateful not only IN bad times but FOR them. In every burden there is a hidden blessing. If we go through pain and get nothing good out of it, we pay the price and buy nothing.
A. Not Superficially
This is not a superficial “praise the Lord” that some dishonest Christians use to mask their sorrow or even their anger. It is born out of the realization of who we are and what we have in a right relationship with God. Jesus could thank God because He knew God would be with Him (Isaiah 43:1-3); the Holy Spirit would empower Him (Hebrews 9:12); His sufferings were part of the will of God (Luke 22:42); they had purpose and would draw people to God (John 12:32/Isaiah 53:10-11); and He knew the crown was waiting on the other side of the cemetery (Hebrews 12:1-4).
B. Not Because We Understand
1. It Is Natural To Question God
Part of being human is the desire to make sense out of life. When we believe God is loving and all powerful, most of us cannot help but ask Him why we are hurting. There are four possibilities:
(1) We have brought it on ourselves. We drive 100 mph and break our neck or drink alcohol to excess and destroy our liver or our home. (2) God sends it or allows it as a punishment because we have sinned. He took David’s baby (2 Samuel 11-13). (3) God sends it to prune us, not because we have sinned but because we need to learn lessons that make us better people (John 15:1 / 2 Corinthians 12). (4) Sufferings come because we are part of the human race. Job said, “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upwards.” (5:7). If Christians did not experience car crashes, cancer, and kids on drugs; we could not build enough churches to hold all the people who would come for the wrong reasons.
Most of the time we think we have done something wrong (Number 2 above) and are being punished, but the whole Book of Job was written to disprove this as the primary reason. If God punished us every time we sinned we would all be dead today. God woos us with His love (Hosea 11); whips us in love (Hebrews 12:7-11); and in the end, if we do not repent, He often takes us to heaven early (1 Corinthians 11:30 / Moses in Numbers 27).
2. It Is Alright To Question God
Jesus, on the cross, quoted the Psalmist and asked why
Job is 42 chapters of questions.
It is alright to question God. Jesus did. Before the cross He asked God if there was some other way to bring humanity the power to be forgiven (Mark 14:35-36); and during the cross He wanted to know why it was happening (Matthew 27:26).
People tell us it is not right to question God. This isn’t true. If we have questions and pretend we don’t we are not being honest; and talking with God honestly with our questions and even our complaints is how we grow in our understanding of His ways. The Bible’s oldest and best treatment of this, the Book of Job, is forty-two chapters of questions. One I like is, “God, why do you use me for target practice?” (Job 7:20).
3. Our Task Is To Be Faithful
Jesus said of His mission, “It is finished” after He asked why (John 19:4/17:20). God is not obligated to give us answers. Much of the time He calls us to “walk by faith and not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Joseph spent years in one horrible situation after another. His brothers
threw him into a pit to die and then sold him into slavery. Even though he refused the advances of his master’s wife because it was against the law of God; he was put in prison for years (Genesis 37-44). In all this, he kept doing right and is known as the most Christ like man in the