There are many things that lead to a broken heart. For me, it was leaving a country I had come to love and call home. After spending two years in the Eastern European country of Slovenia, I dreamed of a future there.
Although I knew God had sent me there for a reason, He allowed circumstances that required me to leave. I felt confused and thought my prayers were going unanswered.
Leaving Slovenia felt like a door slamming in my face.
I cried out to God until I was out of words. I couldn't see God’s care for me in taking me away from something I loved.
My friend Jodi asked me if I'd been able to be thankful.
I told her I thanked God every day. I thanked Him for my family and the blessings He'd given me.
But Jodi meant that I needed to look at my circumstances honestly and give God thanks in them anyway.
She reminded me of something Bill Bright, the co-founder of Cru, once wrote: "The best way to demonstrate faith is to say 'thank you.’”
Bill Bright challenged Christians to obey God's command in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus" (New Living Translation).
I hadn't seen anything to be thankful for in my circumstances, so giving thanks in the midst of the disappointment seemed impossible.
Jodi helped me understand that I could choose to focus on what I know is true about God and give Him thanks whether or not I could see specific things to be thankful for.
Being grateful at all times doesn't feel logical. Sometimes, it goes against the emotions of anger and sadness and always requires humility.
In “More Precious Than Silver,” Joni Eareckson Tada writes, "Such gratitude involves cost and sacrifice—it costs your logic and you sacrifice your pride."
Of course, we may still long for our circumstances to change. Who wouldn't want their loved one back or to have a job after 18 months of unemployment or to be healed from a terrible disease?
God doesn’t ask Christians to be thankful for the circumstances but to be thankful in them.
By doing this, I experienced peace.
Is there something painful, disappointing or frustrating in your life that makes it hard to be grateful? How can you give thanks in your circumstances even when you can’t see anything good in them?
To learn more about being grateful in all circumstances, read “How Do I Give Thanks Even in Suffering?”
We cross the line into worry when we start to dwell on the things we can't control. So how do we stop? And how do we prevent it?
"Perhaps we expect punishment from God, either because we see Him as a harsh master, or see ourselves as dead wood, deserving to be thrown away and burned."
Most life-changing encounters with God usually involve deep emotional, physical or psychological pain.
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