Summary: Keeping my perspective when times get tough.
How Can I Count My Blessings?
So, how was your Thanksgiving this year?
Consider Job. He has come to represent the epitome of suffering. His children were killed in an accident. He is financially ruined. He has been stricken with an incurable illness--and is in such constant pain that he sits out back of the house on the burn pile itching himself with a broken piece of pottery. His friends falsely accuse him of some great sin that he is hiding and won’t confess. And then his wife gets sarcastic and says, "Job, dear, I think we’re going to skip Thanksgiving this year!" If ANYONE would be justified in skipping Thanksgiving, it would be Mr. and Mrs. Job. Yet in the middle of all this suffering, the voice of God comes to Job and makes a very interesting statement to him. In Job 37:14, God says to Job, "Hear this, O Job. Stop and consider the wondrous works of God." From all outward circumstances it seems as though Job has nothing at all to be thankful for, yet here is God coming to him in the midst of it all and saying, in effect, "Job, it’s time to count your blessings."
ILL: I read something interesting this week that should help us keep our attitude right about counting our blessings:
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness...you are more blessed than the six million who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation...you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death...you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep...you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace...you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
ILL: Imagine Ted Koppel interviewing Noah. "Noah, wasn’t it messy on board that ship?" Noah answers: Sure it was messy, but it was still the best ship floating!"
Having a right heart attitude is the first step toward being a truly thankful person. Do I really see every good and perfect gift as coming from God and do I express this gratitude by the attitude I try to maintain when things aren’t going so well?
a. Vs. 12 We’re talking fiery ordeal, not just life’s bumps and bruises
"Comes upon you" is actually a present participle = which is taking place; which is actually in progress.
b. Vs. 12 "happening" = by chance or by accident. ON THE CONTRARY, it isn’t an accident, it is on purpose!
NOTICE vs. 19 suffer according to the will of God!
c. Vs. 12 PURPOSE: it is for our refinement/purification.
Does my personal holiness need to be refined?
Does my ability to live the Christian life need to be strengthened?
God brings things into our lives to make us stronger. He sends troubles to burn away the things that aren’t important so we can focus on what is really necessary.
Psalm 46:10 "Thou has refined us (smelted us), as silver is refined."
Cf. I Peter 1:6 "If necessary"/"since it has to be" = ordered by God’s providence
I Peter 1:7 God does it so our faith can become stronger. When we trust Him through the tough times, our faith is not limp and louse, but strong and experienced.
KEY: Zechariah 13:9 "They will come through the fire...they will call on my name and I will answer them and I will say, "they are my people" and they will say, "the Lord is my God." If your trials don’t bring you to the point of learning to trust God, then you aren’t learning the lesson God has in mind when he sent that trouble to you.
These verses each have a message to us about our attitude about our troubles. Look at them and see what attitudes we need to maintain in order to draw the greatest benefit from the troubles that come into our lives.
1. Don’t be surprised vs. 12
"Strange" is the same word as back in vs. 4! They don’t understand you or your change of lifestyle. You don’t understand sufferings or why you have to go through them.
cf. I Peter 2:21 He told them this would be their vocation/calling
Cf. John 15:17-16:4 Christ told us to expect it.
Cf. John 16:33 "In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
2. Keep on rejoicing vs. 13