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Antacid days

Antacid days

Source: James Aderman, https://tinyurl.com/pszemcq

Thank God for problems

“Have you tried thanking God for your problems?” My friend’s advice stunned me. I’m supposed to thank God for all this upset in my life?

I was a young pastor, just a couple years out of seminary, serving a recently-born church. The congregational issues I faced would not seem as troublesome after a few more years experience. But in my wet-behind-the-ears state they created haunted nights and antacid days. 

I complained to Bob, doing my best Elijah-in-the-wilderness imitation: “I have worked hard for the Lord and all I get is grumbling. No one wants to serve. No one wants to worship. I am the only one who cares. Now the District Mission Board is getting on me.”

“Have you tried thanking God for your problems?” asked Bob.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

“I’m serious,” he continued. “The Bible says, ‘Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.’ ”

“And where in the Bible is that?” Apparently there was at least one day at the seminary that I hadn’t paid close attention.

“1 Thessalonians 5:18. Look it up when you get home.”

I wasn’t convinced that thanking God for personal upending made any sense. But if it was in the Bible . . .

Give thanks in all circumstances

The next morning during my private time with Jesus, Elijah’s whine began anew. But Bob’s verse intruded. I even checked to make sure 1 Thessalonians 5:18 existed. 

A long, deep breath crawled into my lungs and departed as slowly. I mulled the words. “Give thanks . . . in all circumstances . . . God’s will . . . for you . . . in Christ Jesus.”

“Dear Father . . .” The words wedged. I swallowed. “I thank you for the difficulties . . .” Clenched teeth dammed the prayer.

“How can I thank God for the troubles that have put these red veins of sleepless nights in my eyes?”

Why thank God?

“Because it’s God’s will for you,” I argued with myself. “God wants you to. He’s God. So do it.”

“That’s a good reason, I suppose. It’s not a very comforting reason, but it’s a good reason.”

“You want a better reason? ‘Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you’—here’s the reason—‘in Christ Jesus.’ The will of God that sent his Son to be your Savior is the will of God that empowers you to thank him no matter how your life limps. Don’t you get it? The love he demonstrated in Jesus controls and directs your limping.”

Another long breath in, then out. “Dear Father, I . . . thank you . . . for the difficulties . . . I’ve encountered lately. I know you love me. The forgiveness I have in Jesus teaches me that. Because of Jesus I know that you have good to bring out of this. For that I do thank you . . ., even though the hope of any blessing is a mystery right now. I thank you also for people you’ve put in my life. In fact, let me start with the folks I complained to you about yesterday. . . .”

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