Thank Me for the very things that are troubling you. You are on the brink of rebellion, precariously close to shaking your fist in My Face. You are tempted to indulge in just a little complaining about My treatment of you. But once you step over that line, torrents of rage and self-pity can sweep you away. The best protection against this indulgence is thanksgiving. It is impossible to thank Me and curse Me at the same time.
Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart. Thankfulness awakens you to My Presence, which overshadows all your problems.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.
—Psalm 116:17 nkjv
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Just 3 days after losing my baby Jenson at 6 weeks gestation, the Lord led me to read what I'd been studying in Bible Study Fellowship--James 1:2-4, which says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."
I knew that this trial was going to be incredibly difficult to endure, but God encouraged me that it wasn't for nothing--He was using it already to make me more like Him. I just had to be thankful that He was going to use it to mold me and change me, even though the circumstances were so hard to deal with. I hope you receive encouragement from these words. The Lord doesn't allow hurts into our lives to crush us or to hurt us, but to make us more receptive to Him and to make us more like Him.
Romans 8:28-29 says, " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers."
In Bible study this past year, our teacher mentioned those verses and read them together, causing me to conclude that God works all things together . . . to conform us into the image of His Son Jesus, which is for our good. The goal of suffering is to become more like Jesus. And consider how much Jesus suffered--being born a human while giving up all the privileges of almighty God, having no place to lay his head (no possessions to speak of), being spoken of falsely by the leaders of Judaism (God's chosen people), being beaten, spat upon, mocked, a crown of thorns placed on His head, His hands and feet nailed to a tree for all to see his battered and broken body die. And all the while, His heart broke to know that though He was choosing to carry the sins of us all on that horrible cross, there would be many who would ultimately reject Him and His love and would choose to spend eternity separated from Him in hell.
I have lost two children to miscarriage--ten years apart to the month. Experience tells me that being angry with God for years does nothing to grow your relationship with Him, nor does it ease the pain. Only by growing close to Him and by allowing Him to heal me do I begin to feel peace, comfort, even joy! I know without a doubt that my children are ecstatically playing in heaven, cared for each moment by their heavenly Father. It thrills me to know I will meet them one day. Yes, it hurts quite a bit now to not have them with me here, but I take great comfort in the fact that they will never have to deal with sin--which means no broken hearts, no bad decisions, no broken bones . . . so much more. And when I compare my trials to Jesus' trials, I see mine are "light and momentary," as Paul says in 2 Cor. 4:16-18. (Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.)
So even though it hurts terribly, consider it pure joy, my sisters, that God has counted you worthy of suffering so that He might work His ways in you to make you mature and complete.