Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful for What?!?

 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy!” 
James 1:2 (NLT)

My life seems to be a constant game of dodgeball against “troubles of any kind.” Whether it is having four teenagers under one roof, or leading a blended family, or simply navigating the craziness that our calendar becomes at times.

Granted, busyness might not qualify under the category of troubles that James was referring to, but this summer, I was faced with a huge trouble that threatened to tear apart my home. The pain was deep, the ramifications huge, and except for the grace of God, it could have been a trouble that truly never ended.

How do I view a time of crisis as an opportunity for great joy?

How do I keep a perspective of gratitude in the midst of deep pain?

How do I worship and praise God as the very ground around me feels like it is crumbling and falling away?

I wish that I had some profound answers here, but let me share where I am at. 

First, I am grateful for the crisis because it drove me back on my knees at the feet of God in a way that, quite honestly, I have not experienced in quite some time. I had become very passive in my faith and apparently was coasting on past experiences instead of coming boldly before God every day. I would love to say that I am now approaching God confidently in my sacred space that is daily set aside, but that would not be true. However, the awareness and the desire and the need for God’s presence in my life is larger than I can remember in quite some time.

Second, the crisis has drawn my wife and I into greater conversations, greater time together, and more of a “let’s face the world together” mentality. We are determined to win and, by God’s strength, we are winning and will continue to win. I cannot live this life alone. It is not how God wired me, and it is just simply no fun to walk a path in solitude for any extended amount of time. I am reminded daily of how amazing my wife is and I am grateful.

Finally, I have been reminded that the enemy truly hates me and my family. He wants to see us fail and fall apart. He is completely against the story of redemption that our blended family is writing. I must remain vigilant in praying for my home, my wife, and our kids. I cannot take a day off, I cannot put our home in cruise control, and I cannot forget that I live daily in a battle between holy and unholy.

Would life be nicer without crises? Maybe, but it is often the time spent in the valley that reminds us how amazing the mountaintop is. Paul wrote his most joyful epistle in the shadow of prison bars. Maybe we just need the reminder that we live in a broken world that is filled with sin. When storms come, when crises threaten all that we hold dear, let us ask God to help us see the opportunities for great joy.
Great joy in remembering that God is in control!

Great joy in being drawn back into his presence!

Great joy in being compelled to focus on our many blessings!

What do we have to be thankful for? A relationship with God, a security of eternity with him, and the assurance that he is right beside us in every circumstance regardless of how dark the clouds are.

Be encouraged, be blessed, and be thankful!

Lord, I am so grateful that you are on the throne. Remind me daily to lean on you, to trust in you, to spend time in your presence. When the crises of life come, may they not cause my home to crumble; rather, help me to stand firm on your foundation so that when the waves pass, I know exactly what I have to be thankful for. Amen!
~ Mike

1 comment:

  1. I am experiencing a season similar to this. Things have improved in the last 3 weeks, but the pain of the struggle was EXTREMELY INTENSE. I thought I was going to crumble. I know God is faithful and my salvation secure, but I didn't think I could endure. You are so right Mike. This struggle drove me straight to the arms of JESUS Christ with all of my fears, emotions, doubts and questions. I have experienced a level of intimacy with Jesus deeper than EVER before. My family's struggle is not over. However, God continues to tell me to stop trying so hard and allow God to be God. Let Him be our provider, protector and problem-solver.