Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Seek Occasions to Give Thanks

Little by little, unnoticed and for a long while, water seeped through defective tiles in the shower of two bathrooms in our home.
The walls of the adjoining bedrooms became damp.  That was how we knew something was wrong. When we found mildew spreading from behind the cabinets against these walls we had to get help. The damage was extensive and a major repair was required. This meant I had to move out of the house to avoid the dust.
Packing personal belongings out of the way and arranging relocation to our friends’ home was exhausting. As I reflected on what it entailed to re-locate me and all the medical paraphernalia I needed daily, I realized this is the first time I am away from home in two years, and I am not in the hospital. I have had six hospital stays and no vacation in this period.
The damage to the house, the cost of repair and stress of moving out did not matter anymore. Praise and thanksgiving arose from my heart that even in this situation I found many testimonies of God’s goodness without seeking hard for them. I am blessed with great friends who are making my stay a vacation.
But there are times when it is difficult to see the blessing in a difficult situation for which to be thankful, when it appears that the tragedy outweighs the blessing.
How do we give thanks in the midst of such crisis or tragedy?
How do you give thanks when a child refuses to listen to reasoning but goes on a path of self destruction? How do you give thanks when a spouse breaks faith? How does a family give thanks when young children are orphaned overnight because of the death of their parents? How can you give thanks when plane crashes into buildings or churches are being bombed?
There are many of vicissitudes of life which tests and challenges us daily in different spheres of our lives. Does God expect us to give thanks even at such times and in such situations?
Pondering on all of these reminded me of what I read on Laura Kramer's blog late last year – Gratitude in ALL that IS. Even in these adversities God expects us to give thanks.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you”
In ALL circumstances?
Yes, that is what the Bibles says in 1Thess 5:18.
David and Job are great examples of men who were visited with series of tragedies, afflictions and calamities. David’s song of praise in Ps 34:1—“I will bless the Lord at ALL times” was at a time when he had to feign insanity to escape Philistine reprisal (1Sam 21:11-13). Job declared, “Even though the Lord slay me, yet will I trust in Him” and he had been afflicted beyond imagination (Job 13:15).
There are many reasons why we should seek occasions to give thanks even in dark and gloomy times because even when we drink from the cup of affliction we can still find mercy intermingled with it.
Dan Lacich, in his blog Provocative Christian Living, shared why we should – “We worship God for His character just as much as for the amazing things He does. Giving thanks in hard situations must follow that same wisdom. Even if we find it hard or impossible to thank God for some specific thing in our lives we can still give thanks for who He is... It means that even when you can’t find anything about the circumstance to be thankful for, you can and must still thank God that He is sovereign.”
 “The righteous shall give thanks unto Your name.” (Ps 69:30)
We honor and glorify God with thanksgiving especially when it is most difficult and when it is given sacrificially as an act of trust in God. To give thanks in ALL circumstances is to honor and magnify God—using the expression of thanks to make His name widely known and to declare His greatness.
We are prone to magnify the calamities and woes we endure as individuals, as a family and as a nation, and we tend to overlook the occasions for gratitude. When we focus on our trials and everything that is wrong, complaining seeps into our minds to make it sour like the little drops water seeping from the bathrooms damaged our walls.  Complaining is the full opposite of gratefulness. But when we focus on Who God is and what He is mighty to do, we can find a ray of hope in the midst of trials and tragedies that allows us to be thankful.
It is these occasions for gratitude and mercies that we must seek in every adversity and trials—seeking opportunities and making deliberate effort to be thankful in every situation.
We can thank God for His love and mercy. We can recall God’s past blessings and choose to give thanks for these.
I want to provoke you to seek occasions to give thanks in the midst of tragedy, crisis and trials, and when you feel you can’t find any bit of blessing, when the pain far outweighs the good you can see, at this point we must seek the grace to trust a Sovereign God. That trust will be evident in thanking God for Who He is even when what is happening to us does not make sense and is painful.
Will you give thanks today for Who God is?

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