by Christy Hoagland
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Really, Lord? Is this possible? To give thanks in all circumstances?
My family has been going through some trials, great sorrow, sadness…
It is during these times of grief that we often try to gain answers to so many questions…let’s look to scripture for hope, for peace, for joy and perhaps get a glimpse of the whys. What does God’s Word say to give us comfort, what does He tells us to do during these times of great struggle, and how can this be used in my life for good? There are three things the Lord has brought to my heart during this current hardship.
Affliction and Suffering Strengthens Our Faith
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 This scripture tells us that these trials will show how genuine our faith is and that there is wonderful joy ahead and that our fire-tested faith is more precious than gold. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” James 1:2-3 It seems rather ludicrous to count suffering as joy but if these trials produce strength, steadfastness, and a closer relationship with Jesus because we have to rely on Him to help us through it then it is worth it. This strengthened faith and trust in the Lord will give us peace. “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3 I have this on a post-it note on my computer monitor as a reminder to keep my mind on Jesus. It is easy to dwell on the difficult things in life rather than trusting in the One who is completely in control. Although it is hard to see God’s plan in the midst of suffering we can trust Him and His Word. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 God has a purpose even in the hardest things in life. It may take time before we see or know what that purpose is but we can trust the only One who is trustworthy and faithful. ” And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 And just maybe the trial you are in is preparing you to help someone else. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Focus on Eternal Things
This world is temporary, this life is so so short compared with eternity. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4 What a time to look forward to! Let’s keep our eyes on eternity and in the meantime carry out what we are called to do, to redeem this short time. Ephesians 5:16 tells us to make the best use of time while we are here. We must share the precious Gospel of Jesus with those around us. “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:7 So many people walk by us everyday who have no hope, no peace. We are called to love the lost and share our hope with them. We are called to proclaim who He is. “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4 “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:15–16
Cherish What You Have, Count Your Blessings
Trials make me thankful for what God has given me. I have a beautiful family, a sweet and amazing ministry, the gift of music and so much more. But most importantly I am thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” Romans 8:31-32 He is on our side, He gives us good gifts, He loves us so much more than we can imagine, He gave His Son for us! “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17 “The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3
Let us shift our focus, our hearts and our minds to Jesus when we are hurting. He is the only comfort, only peace, only joy when we are suffering. He is good, He is faithful.
“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” John 16:22
*image – YouVersion