April 16, 2019
Giving Thanks in All Things
“These (trials) have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7, NIV).
Friend to Friend
I am told that in the famous lace shops of Belgium there are certain rooms used for spinning the finest and most delicate designs of lace. Each room is completely dark – except for one small window. Through this tiny window, light shines directly on the work at hand. A solitary spinner works in the darkness, sitting where the narrow stream of light will fall on the delicate thread. The choicest pieces of lace, the most exquisite designs, are created when the worker is in the dark and only his work is in the light. When it comes to handling hurt, we often find ourselves sitting in the darkness of frustration and pain, wondering if anything good can possibly be salvaged from the broken pieces of our lives.
I will never forget the day I learned that God really can turn tragedy into triumph. I was sitting at my desk, working on an assignment from the counselor I had been seeing. For months, I had been wrestling with my past; slowly, methodically working through painful issues and buried memories that seemed to be feeding the clinical depression I was battling. As page after page filled with harsh realities, a memory slammed into my heart and mind.
The pain was overwhelming as a vile scene from my childhood slowly took shape. I could hardly breathe as I frantically tried to escape the certainty I had been molested. The perpetrator had been our family doctor and friend. He had even provided free medical treatment when we had not money to pay. I had trusted him, counted on him. As a nurse, my mother had worked beside this man every single day and often watched his children when he and his wife went out.
Anger unlike any I had ever known fueled violent thoughts of revenge and retaliation. I was angry with this man – and angry with God. How could He have let this happen? Where was the light in this dark place?
For months, I worked through painful memories and raging emotions until I saw the first glimmer of light. It was wrapped in chosen forgiveness. And I began to see that had I never been wounded so badly, I would never have been able to forgive so freely – and in doing so, discover a depth of healing and freedom only the greatest pain can produce. Today, I can honestly thank God for all He has accomplished in me through the sin of that man.
There are no accidents with God, nor is He surprised by anything or anyone in the life of His child. God uses even the most horrendous circumstances for our good. The same can be said of relationships. Every relationship – difficult or easy – comes to us for a purpose, wrapped in God’s love and plan and faithfully delivered with His permission. The apostle Paul gives clear directions for the handling of these difficult relationships:
“Live in peace with each other. Encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:13-18). It is only in God’s economy that being thankful transforms tragedy into triumph.
Father, I come into Your presence, choosing to believe that You are faithful and will do what You have promised to do in Your Word. I lay my pain at Your feet and surrender my hurt to You. Only You can ease my pain and restore my joy. Only You can turn the broken places of my life into living illustrations of Your sufficiency and power. I praise Your name, Lord, and choose to trust You today.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Do you really believe that an attitude of gratitude helps us measure our problems against the limitless power of God, turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones? Explain.
Read Psalm 43:4. “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.” What does it mean to “go to the altar of God” in dealing with hurt and pain in your life?
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” How does this verse apply to the way you handle hurt and pain in your life?
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Originally published Tuesday, 16 April 2019.