Thursday, February 17, 2011
Thankful Thursday~Trials and Thanksgiving
As we (I) walk through the remainder of winter and battle the temptation to allow discouragement to take over, I thought it would be a great time to really think about trials and their place in our (my) life. What better time than "Thankful Thursday?"
James 1:2-4 says: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
Recently my pastor preached a sermon on suffering and how God uses it in our lives to turn our eyes to Him. He challenged us to think back on our deep trials and to specifically think about how those trials brought us to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Jesus.
Romans 8:28 says: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
Notice all things are not called "good" but that God can "work it together for good" meaning bring good out of it. That's why Joseph, when sold as a slave by his own brothers thereby going through multiple trials, could say to those brothers: "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Genesis 50:20
With that in mind, today my items of thanks will be trials I have been through and what they have taught me. (I am continuing with my numbering, picking up from last weeks list.) Please don't think I am being coarse or "flippant" about these trials. They hurt, some terribly. I am acknowledging and thanking God for the good He brought to it and how He brought me through each one.
65. As a child, I used to really pray about EVERYTHING. Even a lost toy was something I would pray about. So often I would find the lost item as soon as I prayed. I learned that I could take any problem to my God and that God knows where everything is! I learned He knows all, that He is omniscient.
66. I can remember having croup and then strep throat and even conjunctivitis (pink eye) ALOT. There were times I couldn't remember what it would feel like to have my throat not hurt. I learned that no suffering lasts forever. As an adult I know that even suffering that leads to physical death does not last forever to one who is a follower of Jesus as Heaven awaits!
67. I always loved to sing. There was this Christian group that would travel around the country. I think it was called "Friendship". I dreamed of being in this group. Once I was old enough I tried to contact them and came up empty. It really threw me for a loop. I thought I had God's will for my life all figured out and couldn't handle being wrong. I became very angry, very sinful and went my own way for quite some time. (Seems silly now...) But through it I learned to hold my dreams loosely and humbly as God may have other plans, better plans than mine.
68. Growing up we didn't have a lot of money but we always had what we needed and I didn't worry about money. When I married, we had very little money. Often we didn't know if our basic needs would be met. God carried us through that time, providing all the way! I learned the truths of Matthew 6, that God would indeed provide for us. We never went hungry and always had a roof over our heads (and I even graduated from Bible College debt free).
69. It seemed to take forever to get pregnant with our first child. It was very hard to see friends getting pregnant seemingly easily. But I learned to trust in God's perfect timing for us.
70. I had a miscarriage with my second pregnancy and I was devastated (especially since it again took awhile to become pregnant). The morning it happened for sure (I had been having symptoms for a week or so) I woke with the verse, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for thou art with me." (Psalm 23:4) I knew that God had decided and I wasn't alone. It was that day that I miscarried.
71. I wish I could say that I just handled my miscarriage graciously but I was really quite angry with God. I decided I would still serve Him as He was God and I was not and He made the rules but I wasn't really going to have joy in it. Then one day I read the verse, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32 My heart melted and I learned truly to the bottom of my heart that I have a Merciful High Priest who understands my pain. He willingly gave up His own Son and knew intimately my loss.
72. When my second son was born and was a newborn, a friend dropped him (he had the beginnings of colic and would flip back from the hips...long story). He sustained a double fracture on his little skull as he hit a table and then the floor which hit both sides of his head. I learned during that horrific time what it meant to be "under sustaining grace" and about the "peace that passes all understanding". I am not one to open the Bible and claim a verse but I just knew that God GAVE me the verse, "He protects all His bones, not one of them will be broken." Psalm 34:20 This child is now 14 years old and smart as a whip. We know God has big plans for him! He wants to be a Pastor some day.
73. When my dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had already gone to his brain and bones, I really did not know how I would even walk that path. He lived one year from diagnosis. Let me tell you that every surrounding event of that year was clearly orchestrated by God. Every time we needed something as a family it was provided. As one tiny example, family would come and stay with me at my house so they could visit my dad. (Men turn your eyes a minute.) I never ever had my menstrual cycle when someone visited my house, even if my cycle had to adjust and change for it! I learned during that year that the Lord IS my Shepherd and that He is in Sovereign control of EVERY little detail of my life. I rely heavily on that truth and entrust myself to His control. It is a great, great comfort to me!
I could list more. I think of when I was sick in the hospital with mono at 19 and I felt enveloped in God's comfort, or when I totalled my car being hit right on my door. The whole seat moved over. I had glass in my pockets but no cuts or bruises.
And I am not even mentioning all of the times I have been able to encourage someone and understand their pain because of what I have been through. So many times I am able to speak comforting truths, "God loves you," "He has a plan," "He is there for you to comfort you," "Run to Jesus, you won't regret it," "He will provide and take care of you..."
Trials are painful and hard. It is hard to learn you are not immune to deep trials. But as Corrie Ten Boom said, "There is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still." I have learned it. I am learning it.
Pain can seem like a big waste to one who's eyes are not fixed on Jesus. Every trial is a cry from God, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 Every trial is an invitation to turn and run to Jesus.
"I do not run to Jesus for the answer. I run to Jesus who IS the answer!" ~James Robison