Dazzlers Dance Studio
There is a lot of talk about thankfulness this time of year. With the holidays quickly approaching, we are reminded to take a few moments to consider all the good gifts we have been given. That is, after all, the reason for Thanksgiving. This is a right and important thing to do. I'd like to suggest that this year we consider thanksgiving more deeply than we have in the past. We are told to be thankful for the good things in our lives- family, friends, good health, air conditioning, and our pet chihuahuas. We should be thankful for these things. But what happens when we lose one, or several, or all of the these good things? When we can't see the good gifts, should we then stop being thankful?
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What does it mean to do this? Rejoice always? Give thanks in all circumstances? Surely this doesn't include the bad times. This can't mean I am to rejoice in a sprained ankle, a failed chemistry test, or being fired from my job. What about when I'm fighting with a parent or spouse, when I can't seem to pay the bills, or when I'm drowning in homework? Bible times just couldn't have been as difficult as life is today, right?
The Apostle Paul wrote Thessalonians. Paul was a convert to Christianity in a time when conversion was dangerous and even illegal in most places. Paul lived in poverty. He had been rejected, imprisoned, and stoned. He was soon to be imprisoned again and then shipwrecked, and all for his ministry. Paul knew hard times better than we do. He knew them every day, and yet he told us to be thankful.
I don't say this to negate the reality of our struggles. Even when times are incredibly hard, we are to be thankful, not because the difficulties we face aren't really difficult. They are. Pain is real. Bad things happen. Even Jesus wept at the brokenness of the world around Him. Still, we are to give thanks.
Then, you may be asking, how? How do you give thanks when you've been rejected by your friends, you've been publicly humiliated, you live in constant pain from a physical ailment, or a loved one has died? How can you rejoice when you are overwhelmed, stressed to the breaking point, exhausted, and it feels like the entire world is crumbling around you? The answer, I believe, lies in the second half of verse 18: “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Our God is the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of His universe. He is all powerful, all knowing, and all loving. He knows the difficulties you are facing. He knows the difficulties left to be faced. In fact, He planned them. He intended them to be there in your life. Why? There are a myriad of reasons, but they all come down to this: they are for His glory. His goal is not your happiness but His glory.
That sounds cold. It sounds uncaring, as if He's only concerned about Himself. The beautiful thing is that we know our God. We know that He is good, and that He has promised to bring us to glory with Himself. He has promised that He will work for our good in order to accomplish His glory. We know that He is so glorious and beautiful, that His glory is the ultimate good.
Many times God uses trials and tribulations to teach us things, to prepare us for future service and ministry, or to help us avert unforeseen disaster. Sometimes we don't or can't see the reason for our trials. Always we know, as believers, that trials bring us closer to our Savior. They prune us, build us, and prepare us for His glory. We thank Him in both the good and the bad because it is for His purpose, and there is nothing greater.
Let us revel in His power and sovereignty, and ultimately in His goodness. Let us dance in our Savior's presence, being thankful at all times and for all things.