Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
James 1:2 NLT
The month of September has not been kind to us. One thing after another seemed to go wrong, and I’ll be completely honest in saying I did not handle it well. It was one of those months that completely drained our emergency funds, and then some.
I prayed and prayed, and then something would break. Pray again and someone else would get sick. I kept praying for God to provide, and then turn around and have to write another check. I was constantly saying it would be okay, that we had faith. I kept expecting something to come in from some where, and it never came. More things just kept going wrong. I thought, “God, you have always provided for us. Why not now?”
Any time you reach out and are truly wanting God to speak to you, you better be prepared for Him to do so. He most certainly will, and it may be to give you a good kick in your behind!
Our church recently had a woman’s retreat. It was one of those times that I was just certain that the speakers were talking to God about me before hand. They had conspired together to give me a good hard WHACK on the head with the bible.
One speaker said that we “focus so much on the provision, that we forget the provider.” We forget to praise Him for just being Him. Our praise is contingent upon gifts and answered prayers. We continually thank Him for things He has done. Past tense. Or we are thankful for what He will do, future tense. Rarely, especially in the midst of adversity, do we just stop and say “Thank you for who you are God!” with no strings attached to our affection.
She went on to say, if we woke up the next morning, and God had taken away everything we had not thanked Him for that day, what would be left? That hit me like a ton of bricks. I could not say with certainty that even my children would still be here the next morning.
Another speaker spoke about the many things she went through as a child and said she could not be bitter. It wasn’t in God’s plan to be bitter. More so, she was thankful. Not because He had brought her through, but actually thankful for the trials themselves. She would not have the strong relationship she has now with God if none of that had happened.
The verse above touches on this. In fact the entire passage in James speaks about thanking God for adversity. That we should be joyful that God blessed us in that way. That He would have such confidence and love for us. Knowing that no amount of trouble would separate us from Him. In our blessings we should be humbled, and in our trials we should be proud.
The greater our trial, the more God can be praised. There were some in the early church that actually wanted bad things to happen. If it was trivial, they couldn’t count it as much of a testimony to God. The New Testament speaks often on bragging about our suffering. (2 Corinthians 11:30, Romans 5:3)
I am not sure I could ever ask for bad things to happen. I’m quite certain that most people in the midst of terrible things would feel insulted to say we should ask for it. I don’t think that’s necessarily what God is telling us to do. He definitely grieves with us in the midst of our pain and wants to comfort us. (seriously, just google verses on comfort, there’s hundreds) He also doesn’t want us to just buckle down and power through. He wants us to come to Him and ask for help. (Philippians 4:6)
However the bible is pretty clear that we should be thankful for all things, not just through all things. (Ephesians 5:20) We serve a powerful God, and He does not promise that things will be easy. Bad things will happen. But He is STILL God. I knew that, I have said it many times, but I never fully took it in to my life.
The power of God is not reliant upon His provision. If I’m only looking at how He has provided for me as proof of His sovereignty, then I am only worshiping half a God. I was asking for provision out of pride and entitlement, expecting an answer because I believed Him only to be a provider. He shook me up and said “I am the Lord your God!” I was forgetting to be simply thankful and praise Him for who He is.
It would be nice to say that with this grand revelation also came a miraculous provision. However, that probably wouldn’t have been as good at teaching me the lesson I needed. What I can say is that I’ve stopped worrying and started just being thankful. I’m saying thanks for everything in sight! It’s nuts. God’s probably sitting up there saying “okay, I get it. You can tone back the thankfulness just a bit.” I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m even working on being thankful for the trials them selves. The chance to rely on God more, for all God is, and the opportunity to give Him more glory.