I feel very thankful at the moment. Strangely enough, at the moment, life is pretty tough.
It is one of those things in us that Christ turns upside down when we strive to truly follow Him. The natural response when things are hard is to cry out for deliverance. “Save me Lord!” And here is where the miracle happens; one by one, the experiences of God’s kindness and mercy accumulate in our lives and in our memories. Little by little we build up a principle in life: God is here…
“Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget , Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:15,16)
We learn that to ask God to stop our troubles forever is not sensible, nor is it a prayer He will grant. It’s just not in our best interests. We look to short term gain while He takes an eternal perspective. But He grants us relief from the immediate problem, in His own time, of course. That’s where the thankfulness comes in.
Lately, the problems in my life have been a little larger and somewhat more complex than usual. Being back at St Mark’s College for a while has meant quite a few more convoluted issues to be dealt with than I really would have chosen for myself. (It is funny how people congratulate you on being appointed a responsibility like this. Here’s how it sounds to me: “Hey, congratulations on being given a crushing responsibility, which, if you don’t carry out faithfully will leave the spiritual blood of hundreds of innocent young souls on your hands! How wonderful that you won’t have time to breath for the next six months! We’re so happy for you!”)
But as usual, the experience is once again nothing more than a reaffirmation of God’s incredible power and His all-embracing love…
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Problem after thorny problem is solved, and it passes.
All things must pass.
No problem lasts forever.
God is very, very good to us, His children.
The blessing of difficult times lies partly in the fact that it is in these times that we most experience the power of God in our lives, and thus touch His love in a very concrete way. The old Arabic proverb is very fitting: “The bitterness that God gives is sweeter than the sweetness the world gives”.
It is in tough times, when our own hopeless inadequacy and sinfulness is brutally revealed that we finally know the truth about ourselves. And it is in those times we learn of the incredible mercy of God that elevates us beyond anything we had imagined…
“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9,10)
And so I am thankful; very, very thankful. I am thankful that God is slowly removing from me the unbearable burden of achieving perfection by my own means, and replacing it, piece by painful piece, with dependance on Him. I am thankful for every problem that comes along, for it offers yet another opportunity for me to wait upon the Lord, to learn to trust Him, and eventually to touch and be touched by the tenderness of His infinite care. It seems such an inadequate response, but it is all I have to offer:
Thank You God.