For those of you who have not figured it out yet, I'm still figuring out this thing called life, especially as it pertains to following Christ. It seems like, just when I'm getting a handle on it, something I read in the Bible or hear from a friend challenges some other part of my thinking. Some times that's a frustrating thing. You look back at your life and you think, "Haven't I already been over this spot before?" It can get downright disheartening.
Then there are those times where you stop and look back and go, "Wow! Look at the ground that God has brought me through. Look at the stuff He has shown me."
Today, I am learning to be grateful for both. Thanking God for trials? Yes, because they shape me and deepen my faith and dependence on Him. The wreck that took my wife and son's lives caused me to search the mind of Christ in ways I had not ever done.
Thanking God for correction? Yes, because He took the time to send that friend or to show me that word so that my path could be adjusted.
Thanking God for distractions? Yes, they show me how good life can be when it's lived with Christ as the center of my focus. I think you get the picture. In all things, I have to learn to live with an attitude of gratefulness.
The harder challenge for most believers is thanking God for the good. On the surface, we think it's easy to be thankful for all the good things you see in your life. The blessings He brings. The friendships you have. The material stuff that He has chosen to give you. Your good health. The truth is, one of the greatest problems we Christ followers have with gratefulness is believing that God owes us this--that somehow our "good behavior" entitles us to the good things of life. We ask questions like "How could this happen?" and "Why would God do this to me?" when tragedy hits us. But what would happen if we started to ask those questions in all things.?
You just got the promotion and raise that you had been praying for? How could this happen? What would lead God to bless me in this way?
Your report comes back clean from the doctor? Your spouse is repentant for their poor choices? You've got more income than outflow at the end of the month in your checking account? How about asking yourself then, "Why would God do this to me?" Out of all the billions of people in the world and the millions who choose to follow Him and obey Him, why did He choose to bless me in this way?
Perhaps that would change our perspective. Maybe it would remind you and I that absolutely nothing we have comes from our hands or our labor--but from the hand of God. And perhaps, if we realized that, we would be more wiling to let it go. To share our blessings of time, energy or resources with some civic group, some mission, some church that desperately needs it. Here's a radical thought. How about trading 30 minutes of your good health for a conversation with a lost friend? How about taking 10% of that new salary from that new job that God blessed you with and giving it to his Bride (that's the church for those of you who don't recognize that terminology) so she can, in turn, bless a family in need or an individual at the end of their rope. Life is all about perspective--and you will make of your life what you will based on your perspective. Just keep in mind, that even your perspective can be a gift from God to be used for His glory. Thanks for reading, in good times and bad.