It was supposedly a fine and wonderful Sunday when a brother told us the sad news of his sister’s passing away. His eyes showed brokenness and grief, but he still managed to stand in front of the congregation and sang for the Lord. Though, he was grieving inside, his godly countenance still exuded despite his loss. He even testified and thanked God because he knew that it was God’s plan (he had peace knowing that his loved one was a believer). What a great encouragement to see a brother going through such a loss and yet, never fails to be thankful.
This reminded me of my own personal experiences of bad times. Though, I have been a Christian for quite sometime, giving thanks to God during trying times does not come naturally. Then, I understand that we need to learn it as we continue to focus on God and His goodness and not our own unpleasant experiences and situations.
Whenever I hear people sharing their good testimonies of gratitude and thankfulness to God amidst of trials and pains, I thought that they do that to encourage and appease those who listen to them. I never imagined that the Lord would place me in a very bad situation where I would walk on it with gratitude and thanksgiving. It is really possible, isn’t it?
Why do we really need to give thanks in bad times?
It is a command.
*I n everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
We give thanks because it is a command and will of God for His children. It is not our pains, heartaches, trials, and problems that will motivate us to give thanks but who God is. His character, his attribute. When David encountered so much discouragements and trials in life, he never failed to remember the Lord and used them to thank Him.
We, too are able to have that thankful heart because God knows and plans that for us. There is o coincidence in Him.
It is where we can exercise our faith.
It is easy to give thanks when we talk about good things and blessings. Those things make us remember the Lord easier. But to be thankful for unwanted events is faith.
Job is one of the greatest examples of showing gratitude and faith in times of pain and suffering. In all those unfortunate happenings in his life – losing his children, wealth, and even his own health, he was able to remember to say that we “accept both good and bad for this is from God” (Job 2:10).
James exhorted us to “count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). Because this will lead us to put our faith more on the Lord. Faith in suffering proves how deep we know and experience God. The more we suffer and the more we put our faith on the living God, the more our faith increases. Without these testing, our faith will not be exercise and we will not appreciate God, who is the author and even the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).
“Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of.” Charles Spurgeon
It is not the trials that determine who we are, it is our response to them. We have the option to make our faith bigger or swerve away from the faith.
It is where we see God the most.
In joyful moments, we praise God. But during those heartaches that we experience and see God the most. People might be there to comfort us, but nothing is much better than seeing God work in our situations. Deep pains will enable us to cling onto the Lord tightly until we see His deliverance. When we are overwhelmed with our thoughts, the Lord is there to comfort our souls (Psalm 94:19).
I always thought that I was walking closely with the Lord. But I was wrong. When He allowed me to walk in the path of broken dreams and shattered plans, I realized that I did not really know the Lord well. Those sleepless nights made me closer to God.
It is only Him that I can cry on anytime, anywhere. He never gets tired of me. Where my soul has gone deep without any hope, there the Lord saw me through. It is not yet the end of my battle but I know God is always there to give me hope.
They are opportunities for growth and maturity.
When I was a child, I was very eager to walk. Just months old and I kept on walking and walking. My mother was their to help me but she had to let me do it on my own for me to learn. Yes, there were times that I got stumbled and bruised ended up crying. There were moments where it felt like I wanted to give up learning how to walk. But I know, I should not. And even my mom. Though, she wanted to help me, she would not because she knew that’s how I would be able to grow and learn things on my own. Those hurts and scars made me stronger until I learned to walk.
This makes me think of our spiritual life. When we were younger in the faith, older ones helped us out. They looked after us. They came alongside us. As we mature and grow our knowledge of God, He allows us to go through dark times for us to grow more. Those people are still there, but these battles are best won when we let God do them for us.
How do these things help mature? Through bad times of pain and sufferings:
We learn to depend on Him more. (Jeremiah 29:11)
It helps our faith grow. (Hebrews 11:1)
Helps us endure and persevere more. (Romans 5:3-4)
It increases our trust. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
It makes us humble. (2 Corinthians 12:7)
Those trials and sufferings are not easy, but they are the ones that will make us to grow faster. They are opportunities to let us see where we are standing before God. Yes, it will never be easy but worth it (James 1).
“A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.”
Easy journey tends to make us forget God. Trials, pains, and suffering draw us near to Him.
The year is almost over. Just days from now, we will enter a new year and people might probably be thinking and preoccupied with the coming holiday season – gifts, parties, food, bonuses, and get together with friends and loved ones.
With all of these things that we have in mind, I hope that we find time to reflect on the good and bad things that the Lord has done for us this year.
Christmas is not about all those stuff, (though, they are good) but it is a season to remember that Jesus was once born so eventually He would die on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin, and rose again for our salvation to be made available and free.