Sometimes we find it difficult to be thankful when we are enjoying peace and prosperity, and the many good things we have received from God. But something that is even more difficult, is to be thankful when we face trials and troubles, when we suffer the loss of our health, or of a loved one, or of material possessions. We all have to face these difficulties from time to time, yet, we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
It is truly difficult to be thankful in times of suffering, but we should keep in mind the words of James as he wrote in James 1: 2-3: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” As Christians we need to understand that even the trials that we are called to face can become an avenue in which God blesses our lives.
I am reminded of a young man I met a few years ago. He had been injured in an auto accident and paralyzed from his waist down. Later, because of his depression, he had taken a gun and shot himself in the temple. His head was badly disfigured, but he survived the suicide attempt. When I met him he was in a nursing home, and had lost his will to live. He would not eat and his weight had dwindled to less than 85 pounds. I began to visit with him every week and we began to study the Bible.
After several weeks he was baptized into Christ. He took on a renewed interest in life. He began to eat and to gain weight. He looked forward to Sunday when we would pick him up and take him to the morning assembly.
One day when we were talking, I expressed to him my sorrow for his condition and how I wished he were able to walk. He told me that he was glad for his injuries. He said that he had lived a very ungodly life before he was injured and had he not been injured, he would have never been interested in hearing the gospel message and becoming a Christian.
This young man had the faith to look beyond his trials and see the way God had used his trials to bless his life. That is the kind of faith to which we are called. No matter what the circumstances, let us be joyful and give thanks to the Lord. -Wendell Ingram