You might never know it for all the Christmas stuff going on, but Thanksgiving is almost here. Last year our family started a new Thanksgiving tradition. We have a white tablecloth and everyone at the Thanksgiving meal is to write on the tablecloth one thing they are thankful for. As the day for the family dinner approaches I've been thinking about what to write. This year has been a difficult year. Frankly, I can't wait for New Year's because I'm going to be glad to see 2011 come to an end.
BUT, the Bible does say to give thanks in all things, right? Why in the world would we be thankful for the painful and difficult things we experience? Well, over and over in my life I've seen that it is the painful and difficult things that God often uses to bring about something incredibly beautiful. We don't see it at the time, but eventually I believe the worst things in life are the times when we are closer to God and learn more about what it is to follow him. Here are a few examples ...
Getting kicked out of a church. That was a tough one. It sure looked like life as we knew it was over. We were literally put out on the street with a one year old baby - and the "good church people" that were responsible, had the audacity to tell us that God would take care of us. I never doubted that for a second but I sure didn't need to hear it from them. There's a long story there, but in the end, it was one of the best things that ever happened to us. I can't begin to count the times I've since been very grateful for getting kicked out of that church and not because there were bad people there - there were some really, really good and godly people there.
Going through recovery for an eating disorder. That was tough too - especially when your a pastor's wife and have to go through the recovery process (falling on your butt and all) in public. Time and time again I was told that God could deliver me out of that instantly if I just had faith. Of course he could. He's God. He can do anything He wants. I never once doubted that either, but you know what? I'm SO glad He chose NOT to deliver me instantly. I would have missed so much. Again, there's a long story here, but in the end, the recovery process was one of the best things in my life. I would not be who I am today or be able to do the things I do today if not for it. Deliverance happens instantly - growth and a deeper walk with God, does not. I would not have traded that experience for deliverance for anything. That's not to say it wasn't the most difficult thing I've ever done in my life or that it wasn't horrible at the time. It was.
That said, there are two things I can think of that might prevent God from working in difficult circumstances - 1, whining and 2, hiding.
Think about that... and have a good Thanksgiving.