(Reprint from 2010 post)
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
A little more than forty years ago, I was a defeated young man with a bad case of the blues.
Only a year out of seminary I found myself on the receiving end of the fury of several people in the church I was serving who believed I was unfit for pastoral ministry. I truly believed this was leading to a dramatic and painful conclusion to a very short career in full time church ministry. I am so glad Facebook didn’t exist at that time.
As I endured numerous devastating personal attacks (I must admit some were deserved), two men stood with me—my senior pastor, and the chairman of the Board. These men believed in me and were determined not to let me become a needless casualty. I am so thankful they saw something in me others did not. They committed themselves to walk with me through it because they believed God had called me to this work. They would not let me wallow in self-pity or defeat. They knew there were lessons to be learned and that if I received this painful experience with gratitude, God could turn the blues into blessings for my life and future ministry.
Good to Be Afflicted?
From these two men I learned the truth of Psalm 119:71 – “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.” In this time of affliction two wise mentors taught me important lessons about myself and God’s grace that made it possible for God to use me in fruitful pastoral ministry for many years afterward. In the midst of this affliction, I discovered the power of being thankful “in all circumstances”.
I know this is a strange story for Thanksgiving–a time to remember and give thanks for all of God’s blessings. Yet, four decades ago I learned the importance of being grateful for the difficult time. Why shouldn’t Thanksgiving be a time for all of us to pause and express our gratitude for the hard times—the afflictions and suffering we all face. After all, President Lincoln inaugurated this sacred day at a time of great national suffering.
What a powerful testimony for our grandchildren to hear us express thanks to God for the difficult circumstances of life, His Sovereign grace, and the blessings He gives despite such suffering. After all, His grace is sufficient for all circumstances.
This Thanksgiving take time around the table to give thanks, not only for the joyful blessings of God this past year, but also for those things that sometimes do not seem like blessings. Such a spirit of thanksgiving is a good cure for the blues because it expresses our confidence in the Providence of God.
GRANDPAUSE: “A grateful heart is most precious to God when, humanly speaking, our situations don’t warrant giving thanks.” –Charles Stanley
Will you consider a gift to CGN to help us close out our 2018 season?