“Be thankful.” “Count your blessings.” “Rejoice in the Lord.” How many times in your life have you heard this? For me, too many times to count. To be thankful for the trails, be grateful when I feel alone and abandoned, or rejoice when I just failed. How is that possible? How can I just have something fall apart in my life and then say “thank you, God, this is wonderful”? Have you been there or are you here right now? Do you feel alone, hurt, or hopeless someone says “count your blessing!”? Don’t you just feel like kicking something or someone at that point?
Here’s the hard truth that I’m learning – scripture says:
- “yet I will celebrate in the Lord; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”
Habakkuk 3:18 CSB
- “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
Philippians 4:4 CSB
- “Then I will rejoice in the Lord; I will delight in his deliverance.”
Psalms 35:9 CSB
- “And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful.”
Colossians 3:15 CSB
- “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,”
Hebrews 12:28 CSB
And that is just a sample of the verses that call us to rejoice and be grateful all the time. There is a natural trap we fall into whereby the more we have the more we want and the less grateful we are. In the modern world that we live in a place between the polarization of living without want and “needing more” because there exists a great divide in our hearts and minds in being content vs. ungrateful spoiled brats. We easily turn our perspective of God into the genie in the bottle rather than the providing Father that He is.
It’s taken me years of struggle to get to the point that I am at right now to trust God as my providing Father. Prior to this, I had to prove to myself, my family, and the world that I could do it on my own, which stems from having to prove to the principle of my school during the 4th grade that I would graduate from high school. Then, at 18, my parents lost everything due to a major loss in their business. I did not realize until recently that I took all ownership of my provision instead ever allowing God to supply. This caused a lack of trust in me. I worked and worked then worked harder until I literally started to fall apart. My health went, my marriage started to suffer, it felt like God was a million miles away. My friendships, kids, church life, family, ministry…everything was falling apart as I struggled every day to provide.
The healing began while I was in my darkest depths of despair at 2 weeks post-partum. My husband came to me with two options: we file bankruptcy and become homeless or we move across the state to live with my parents until we get on our feet. It was like the walls of Jericho came down upon me. How do I rejoice in Lord when this is happening? It didn’t come overnight, that’s for sure. After six months of living with my parents, we went from the verge of bankruptcy and being homeless to purchasing our home. That’s a whole story of miracles.
I look back with a thankful, grateful, rejoicing heart of that 6 months because without it I wouldn’t be where I am now. My marriage healed and is stronger than ever, we are homeschooling our kids, we are each working a flexible career, we are serving God and others, but most of all I would never have been in a place of complete trust in God as my provider and loving Father. My relationship with God has never been closer. God didn’t change anything at the time but let me suffer so I could be restored. I get it now – when James says, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials,” James 1:2 CSB because in the end when you continue to pursue God, joy comes. It can’t be helped. God is so, so good to us that way.
The trials are what gives us the testimony and the joy to show that God has made our life radiant.