Friday, November 16, 2018
1 Chronicles 16:34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
Soon it will be Thanksgiving. It seems appropriate that we move from a study of what we can learn from life’s hardships to a focus on being thankful in all circumstances.
It is possible that you misread that last statement. It does not say to be thankful for all circumstances but be thankful in them. It is a clarification that is necessary for proper application.
I am not thankful for the consequences of evil in this world that affect my life. However, I am thankful during those times of suffering because my attitude is based on the goodness and steadfast love of the Lord. He never changes, so my attitude can always be thankful.
Yet we quickly turn to complaining when circumstances affect us negatively. The heart drifts toward complaint as if by gravitational pull. Complaint seems a reasonable response to a sequence of disappointing events. Generally, we don’t have to extend an invitation for complaint to show up. It arrives as an uninvited guest. Before we know it, complaint feels right because it is familiar.
Author Jeff Manion, in his book The Land Between, says that we must evict the spirit of complaint. Here’s how he describes it:
We can discourage complaint’s residency in our lives by inviting another guest to move in with us. That new guest is trust. When we choose to trust in the face of deep disappointment, complaint has less space to maneuver. While attempting to unpack for an extended stay, it discovers that trust has taken all the drawers in the guest room and already occupies the empty seat at the table. Trust evicts complaint. Trust and complaint are incompatible roommates. One inevitably pushes the other one out.
Trust. Trust in the nature and character of God. Trust is the basis for thanksgiving.
Several years ago, God gave me a definition of trust using the word as an acrostic. It has become the basis for my understanding of the connection between trust and thanksgiving.
TRUST – Totally Relying Upon Sovereign Timing
Trust requires reliance upon God’s absolute control over all things, and that all things are working towards a glorious conclusion that will result in good for us (see Romans 8:28). When we have that level of trust, then we can also live through any hardship with an attitude of thanks.
Here’s another acrostic that reveals the connection between trust and thanks:
THANKS – Trusting His Attributes Not Knowing Specifics
I believe we have two problems that keep us from being thankful. We don’t trust anyone’s control except our own, and we don’t relax until we know all the details of the outcome. If we choose not to trust the Sovereign timing of God, then we obviously won’t be thankful unless we are in control and know the details of every circumstance. What a tragic and depressing way to live.
Here’s a simple story that helps me to understand that I can trust God with the outcome even when current circumstances seem counter-productive.
A ship was wrecked, and the only survivor washed up on a small uninhabited island. He was exhausted. He cried out to God to save him. Every day he scanned the horizon, searching for help. Finally, he managed to build a rough hut and put his few articles in that hut.
One day, coming home from hunting for food, he was stung with grief to see his little hut in flames and a cloud of smoke. The worst had happened. But later that day, a ship came in and rescued him.
He asked the crew, “How did you know I was here?” They replied, “We saw your smoke signal.”
Maybe the difficulty you have now is a smoke signal that will lead to great blessing. Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!