Grateful In All Circumstances

What does it mean, to give thanks in all circumstances?

In First Thessalonians chapter five, the Apostle Paul closes with a list of things that every Christian ought to do (vv. 12-22), but can't do in our own strength or by our own sheer will. Perhaps we can accomplish some, or all that's on this list, but it would only be a temporary appearance of godly character rather than a faithful and continual walk. For we know if we do not abide in Christ, we will not bear His fruit. And any true godly quality we exhibit is a demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor 2:5), not from our flesh that continually desires the ways of this world.

I often refer to my physical trials as a gift from the Lord and something He has seen fit to work in my life for my greatest benefit. And often, I get questions and comments from people who are outraged by my proclamation that a good and loving God would bring pain into my life. They tell me I'm rather foolish and audacious to claim God would do anything besides make me healthy, wealthy and happy. But that's not what God says.

"For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though He cause grief, He will have compassion according to the abundance of His steadfast love; for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men."
~Lamentations 3:31-33 (ESV)

In Psalm 119 verses 67 and 71, the psalmist sees the good purposes of afflictions in this life: they keep us from going astray and give us deeper understanding and appreciation for God's holy statutes. The writer of Hebrews also echos this in chapter 12 when he talks about God's loving and faithful discipline, which is painful at the time, but for those who endure and are trained by it, they will yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness.

"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
~Romans 5:1-5 (ESV)

Wow! Who doesn't want to build endurance, character and hope? Everyone, both believers and non-believers aspire to such a high and noble stature, but this can only be obtained by divine providence; by the power of God's Holy Spirit that indwells the children of the Most High God.

I would be lying if I didn't admit the hardships of these 10 years, with the past five encumbered by many hospital admits, five surgeries, countless procedures and tests, and the acquisition of more specialists than there are colors in the rainbow. Constant physical pain, and I mean pain on the scale from 5 - 10 on good days, every day, non-stop (up until recently) has really worn on me. It was always something, one thing after another. I was either tearing a muscle, a tendon, or an organ wasn't working right or my blood work was out of whack...again. It was a constant dance for my doctors to try to figure out what would help me without causing something else in my highly precarious system to malfunction.

And I'm supposed to be grateful for this? Yes!

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the thing that are unseen are eternal."
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)

Did you hear that? Did you hear what our heavenly Father said here? He said that He makes even the most agonizing and grievous things in this life work for our benefit! So then, if God uses even the "bad" experiences to work for our greater good, then the question is, why is suffering a bad thing if it's working good in us and for us—for this life and the one to come?

If this doesn't give you reason to be grateful for whatever you may be suffering today, consider Hebrews 5:7-8, "In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Although He was a son, He learned obedience through what He suffered." We are not greater than Jesus (Lk 6:40), so if He "learned obedience through what He suffered" how much more will we learn? Besides that, let's do a reality check here. Jesus didn't deserve one iota of suffering, but we deserve more suffering than we will ever know because God poured out His wrath on His Son instead of us.

In view of this awesome mercy and grace from God, we should rejoice in the freedom of our salvation and give thanks to God in all and for all circumstances. Our circumstances don't determine our joy; Jesus does, and He's already sealed it by giving us His Holy Spirit.

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid...I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world."
~John 14:27, 16:33 (ESV)

P.S. I almost forgot. For those who've been praying and have asked about my heart issues; the meds are working and I'm doing well. Thank you for your prayers and thank you for asking! ♥