Friday, August 1, 2008

Thanks for Everything!

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

                        1 Thessalonians 5.18

It’s All Good

Following Jesus changes us by changing how we live. It reorders our priorities. It steels our confidence by providing Christ as the perfect example. It alters our perceptions of what’s happening to us and around us. Our world doesn’t change, however. The same anxieties, ambitions, and negative attitudes that plagued us before remain in play. Rejection still hurts. Injustice still injures. Prejudice still stings. Yet looking at them (and those responsible for them) from a Christian perspective gives us tremendous insights into what they ultimately will mean for us. Rather than look ahead, by faith, we leap into the future and look back at how God is moving in our behalf. From that viewpoint, it’s all good.

Faith Fatigue

Jude tells us to expect mistreatment and ridicule from “men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” He encourages us to “build yourselves up in your most holy faith” and “keep yourselves in God’s love.” By faith, we look beyond our circumstances, good or bad, to envision better outcomes. In the meantime, God’s love sustains us and gives us power and patience to return kindness for evil.

Living by faith can be exhausting work. It insists we ignore what’s easiest to strive for what’s best. This automatically erases quick fixes and instant gratification from the picture, replacing it with a paradox. “Let us not become weary in doing good,” Paul wrote, “for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6.9) We rely on the very same faith that asks so much of us for motivation to keep going.

Flawless Timing

As believers, we’re driven by this truth: our circumstances may be lousy, but God’s sense of timing is flawless. While He works behind the scenes, we follow Paul’s advice: “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2.12b-13)

Every situation we face offers us the chance to stretch our faith and gives God the chance to work in us. Always remember He doesn’t fix problems, He solves them. That requires longer than we typically prefer. But while He’s busy with our circumstances, instead of complaining about having to wait, we should thank Him and show our faith in what He’s doing.

Think of the equal horizontal lines above as our problems. They remain the same. But when we reverse the angles around them, we perceive them to be completely different. 

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