Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. — Psalm 23:6 (NIV)
I wrote today’s mediation on giving thanks in every circumstance two years ago. Since then I have grown in thanking the Lord for my many blessings. However, I have not grown as much in giving God thanks in the hard times.
One reason my progress has been slow is that I tend to be a negative thinker, and I often expect circumstances to turn out worse than they do. I relate to the famous quote that goes, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” But giving thanks helps me remember that God controls our circumstances for our good.
It has been a struggle to give thanks for God’s goodness in my having to face open heart surgery six years ago. The surgery involved six bypasses and the repair of two aneurysms. I have experienced good health since then. Now I am tempted to complain about all the tests and check-ups I have to go through. But I give God thanks for how he uses them to detect problems early, when they are still small.
My progress has also been slow in giving thanks for the good that God brought from my childhood home. There was considerable emotional and physical abuse there. But as I thanked the Lord for my childhood home recently, I realized that that home helped open me up to receive God’s unconditional love and become a Christian.
I have also felt frustrated by not being offered a more influential leadership position in my church. I know I’m qualified, but I have not had the opportunity. What I am learning from this is to base how I see my value more on my identity from God and less on how impressive I think I am to others. Although it is painful to feel overlooked, I am depending more on how I am precious to God. And I give thanks to God for that.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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