This guest post is from Lindsey Bell. See her full bio at the end of the post.
I never thought I would need to learn to be thankful.
As a teenager and young adult, I was typically cheerful. Of course, I had my bad days, but most of the time, I was positive.
Lately, though, I’ve realized I’m not as upbeat as I used to be.
The daily demands of being a stay-at-home mother, combined with multiple miscarriages, left me feeling less than thankful about my life.
About a year ago, after our fourth miscarriage, I decided something had to change. I was tired of crying all the time and tired of failing to enjoy the kids I have because of my constant desire for another.
Basically, I was tired of being discontent.
That’s what led me to this verse in 1 Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
What I love about this verse is that Paul wrote these words to a group of believers who were being persecuted for their faith.
He didn’t write them to happy-go-lucky believers who didn’t have to worry about anything. No, he wrote them to believers whose lives were being threatened, quite possibly on a daily basis.
These were men and women who—by appearance alone—had few reasons to be thankful. Torture was a very real possibility. So was prison and death.
Nonetheless, Paul challenged these people to be thankful in all circumstances.
A Thankfulness Challenge
As I thought about this verse over the past year and tried to wrap my head around how it’s possible to be thankful in situations like these, God taught me a few things:
1. We don’t have to thank God for the pain, but we do need to thank him in the pain.
In our day-to-day lives, this means thanking God for being with us in our trials and for helping us through the difficult days. It means recognizing He can use anything—even our most painful trials—to bring about something good.
2. We need to expect difficulties.
One of the reasons our miscarriages have been so difficult is because I mistakenly believed God would never allow this much pain into my life. I thought He would protect me from it.
Unfortunately, God never promised us pain-free lives. In fact, in John 16:33, Jesus promised the opposite: “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Pain is a part of life, and we’re not going to escape it simply because we follow Jesus. Learning to expect difficulties can help prepare us for when they come.
3. We need to count our blessings.
Pain has a way of blocking our view. It’s like driving into the sun as it rises in the morning. If you look directly at it, it will prevent you from seeing anything else. But take your eyes off of it, and you can see your surroundings more clearly.
Take your eyes off your pain and fix them instead on Jesus.
It won’t remove the pain, but it will help you get through it…It will help you see the blessings that were hidden by the tears.
What has helped you be thankful in all circumstances?
Lindsey Bell is the author of Searching for Sanity, a parenting devotional that will be released in January 2014. She’s also a stay-at-home mother of two, minister’s wife, avid reader, and chocolate lover. You can find Lindsey online at any of the following locations:
Her blog: www.lindsey-bell.com
Her website: www.lindseymbell.com