Psalm 46:1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”
Yesterday we talked about thanking God for what He has done in the past. Remembering and giving thanks for God’s past blessings is an important place to start but a dangerous place to stop. If we live our entire lives only remembering what God has done in the past we will end up falling into either nostalgia or despair. Nostalgia is the trap of looking back on the past as if it were a golden age. Those who are prone to this trap like to say things like “Back in my day….” or “The world sure has changed since I was a kid.” In some ways, this is a natural human tendency but we need to realize that the past was never as good as we remember it to have been. Human beings have a built in editing machine that kicks in to gear somewhere around the age of 40 and edits out many of the unpleasant memories of our past while at the same time accentuating the good memories. The result is the feeling that the past was somehow much better than the present. Satan uses this tendency to get us to ignore the truth that God is as much at work right now as He was back then. If we cultivate the feelings of nostalgia we end up falling into despair thinking that things can never be as good as they used to be. The cure for this malady is to thank God for what He is doing right now in your life.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 the Apostle Paul writes, “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Did you catch that little word “all” in the middle of that sentence? God’s will is that in every circumstance of your life, whether good or bad, you give thanks to God. This command stems from the recognition that God is always at work in your life, even when you are not aware of it. Do you remember the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis? Joseph was sold into slavery by his older brothers and ended living in Egypt. Joseph could not see it at the time but God was in the process of placing him in exactly the right position so that many years later and through a number of circumstances he ended up being second in command of all of Egypt. Even more importantly, Joseph was in a position to protect his family and insure that the promises of God to Abraham would be carried our. After his father died, Joseph’s brothers began to worry that Joseph might take vengeance upon them. In Genesis 50:19-20, the Bible says, “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alice, as they are today.” Go back and read that verse again and let it sink deep into your heart. Joseph here acknowledges that his brothers meant evil to him, the intended to harm him and ruin his life, but God “meant it for good.” That phrase can change your life if you will let it.
No matter what you are going through right now in your life, God means it for good. That does not mean that the circumstance is good, but that God is using it for good in your life. He is always at work in our lives, in ways that we often cannot see nor understand, to accomplish His divine will. Today as I look at my life and the circumstances that surround me, I cannot always understand them but I know that God is at work and for this I praise Him.
What are you going through right now that you need to stop and thank God for? You don’t have to thank Him for the cancer, or the loss of a job, or the struggles you are having with your family, but you do need to thank Him that in the midst of these circumstances He is working to accomplish His divine will and purpose. I guarantee that if you will spend some time thanking God for what you are going through, He will slowly change your attitude.