27 November 2008

Giving hard thanks

by Dan Phillips

One of the questions Todd Friel was asked during The Dr. Phil Show was "How do I give thanks for bad things?"

Scripture says that one of the marks of the Spirit-filled believer is that he gives "thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). In fact, we're flat-out commanded to "give thanks in all circumstances" — and, as if that's not enough, Paul adds, "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

We see that men of God have reached out to do just this. Famously Job, pummeled with tragedy after tragedy, responded, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21). Similarly, the writer of Psalm 119 sings, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes" (Psalm 119:7).

In that spirit, I'd like to invite readers today specifically to express their thanks to God for difficult chapters and events in their lives, for what I call "rough providences," in which they've come to see God's hand of blessing and/or instruction in some way.

The first of many that spring to my mind is my first senior pastorate. It was among the most difficult chapters in my life. There were many blessings and "successes," but also many bleedingly-difficult challenges, and wretched failures. Worse, I have a burning, gnawing string of bitter, bitter regrets. How bitter? Twenty-plus years later, I still have dreams where I have an opportunity to do things differently.

Yet the slow process of reflection and learning have been very instructive to me. God walloped my pride severely and unsparingly. I see (in the rear-view mirror) follies and sins in my attitude of which I was completely and wholly unaware at the time. That very fact is humbling and instructive to me today.

I could have read it all in a book; but I'd not have learned it from a book. I'm grateful to God for teaching me; I'm prayerful that I have time left, and opportunity to come, in which I can bear fruit of the repentant education it brought me.

What would you share from your own walk with the Lord, on this day of giving thanks?

Dan Phillips's signature

52 comments:

The Blainemonster said...

I am profoundly grateful for the Father's faithfulness and patience. Like you, looking back on my life I shudder at what I once was earlier on in my walk, and it is humbling. He is a truly good God. SDG.

Matt said...

I could have read it all in a book; but I'd not have learned it from a book. I'm grateful to God for teaching me; I'm prayerful that I have time left, and opportunity to come, in which I can bear fruit of the repentant education it brought me.

Thank you so much Dan. It's so difficult to thank God for the things which we don't want. Yet we need to.

I won't go into painstaking detail here, but I'll share a recent "rough providence" of mine.

When I was 11, my parents divorced (this was a first for both our church and our community of 500 people) and were excommunicated from our church (not for the divorce, but the things that fed it). The farm I grew up on (the land was given by my grandpa to my dad) was sold out of the family. My grandparents didn't know about it until after the sale went through. For a number of reasons, I have always felt as the oldest that it was my duty make things right. I had to be the 'atonement' to my grandparents, to my small town, and to my church.

Two years after the farm was sold, we 'left dodge' and moved to the Excited States of Hysteria. I finished off my high-school there, always having a definite plan of moving back to Canada to my home town, and eventually buying the farm that was sold, and starting to milk cows and make everybody (including me) happy.

Well, by God's providence I married a girl from a dairy farm about 8 miles away from the one I grew up on. She wanted to provide the farm life for our kids. Then, by another act of providence, 1 1/2 years ago, the farm came up for sale, and we bought it. By another act of providence, we got financing and everything fell in place beautifully (barn renovations, finding a herd of cows, etc.) and we started dairy farming full time in October of 2007. Everything was fixed now, right? I mean, grandpa got to see his grandson farming on the farm that was sold without him knowing (he must have almost died inside when that happened), I became an active member in the church where my parents were excommunicated from, and I had everybody's approval, including my own. Deep down I was proud of what I had accomplished.

Only weeks in I struggled immensely. For a person who was always strong and could always cope with an unlimited number of challenges, I was helpless. I questioned my motives. I wanted out. I felt trapped. In short, I had a nervous breakdown and went into depression. ME!? By God's grace, we got through that with the help of medication, much prayer, and counselling from a godly minister in our church.

I had to come to terms with some extremely ugly things through that. Things that were ugly both in my past and in my own heart. Had God not crushed me into powder, I'd still be who I was. That's not to say that I no longer struggle with pride. It just means that there is now a marker in my life that shows me that God loves me and is willing to crush and discipline me when it will glorify Himself and draw me close.

We have a wonderful God!

Daryl said...

I'd like to thank God for this fall. A job change, new baby and upcoming kidney transplant have shown my family how willing the local church to which we belong is to love God by loving his people. We've seen unimagined generosity both from our church, but also from my sister, who is graciously giving me a kidney.
We've seen (yet again) God provide for our needs financially and in every other way. Without need, how could we see God fill it?

Kim from Hiraeth said...

I am thankful for God's loving-kindness and His all sufficient comfort and peace with regard to my middle son's life threatening heart issues. Just last week we had opportunity, again, to thank God in the midst of fear and uncertainty for His loving-kindness and His great mercy.

Had Jake not been born with multiple, major heart defects, our family would never have known the infinite comfort of Christ in life and death situations.

Phil Johnson said...

Dan:

Wrigley thanks you for featuring him.

Pyro readers:

I didn't notice Dan had posted this morning and almost accidentally over-posted him. But I've I moved my annual Thanksgiving post down one notch. (see below.)

Have a great day.

DJP said...

Aigh! Did I step on a tradition?

I'm sorry, bro; I just thought I was letting you have a rare day to rest.

)c:

witness said...

He saved me for all eternity. Everything else is just gravy.

donsands said...

Thanks for sharing that Dan.

I thank the Lord for tha dark trial I went through when my church split. That was a Psalm 40 season. And like you say, I still have problems when I think of all the spiritual dung that was in my heart, and in others.
But the Lord brings on dark times, so He can shine His light in our dark hearts, and so we can repent, and perhaps grow in His grace, and become a bit more conformed into the image of Christ our Lord.

Mike Riccardi said...

Witness,

Amen.

Dan, good exhortation. I think at the heart of giving thanks in everything is a real, experiential, intimate knowledge of the absolute sovereignty of God. If "He works all things after the counsel of His will...to the praise of His glory" (Eph 1:11-12), if He "causes all things to work together for good" (Rom 8:28), if all things are "from Him and through Him and to Him," AND He's full of goodness and acts out of that fullness of goodness, then we've got no business not being thankful in those hard times.

Phil Johnson said...

Dan: "Aigh! Did I step on a tradition?"

No. You're cool. I used the word annual sardonically. I made no such post last year.

It's "annual" in the same sense as the Johnson family Christmas cards. We skip about every fourth year.

DJP said...

So you're working off of some sort of Johnsonian "prophetic calendar."

Got it!

(c:

candy said...

Some years ago I found myself as a divorced Christian. It was hard to believe I was divorced and a Christian at the time (not supposed to happen, right?), but I contributed my fair share to the disintegration of my marriage. I realized after some intense struggles and great depression that I wanted to move somewhere else. My kids were grown and it was hard to see my ex and his new wife at family events.

I moved to Texas to work in a Christian ministry. I started to really get a revelation of the Doctrines of Grace and realized how much I was like Gomer in that I had turned to so many different idols to fill my life the first 25 years of my Christian walk.

I came to understand my wretchedness and that God had stripped me of everything I had turned to instead of Him and He led me out to the "wilderness" so to speak. My time in Texas was a very lonely but intense time drawing closer to the Lord.I spent 11 years in this process from my divorce to my eventual remarriage to a man who had gone through a similar process and had come to love the Doctrines of Grace as much as me.

Both of us have been healed of the past in innumerable ways and are very thankful to God for his sovereignty in our lives, his provision, and our love for each other and God.

Frank Turk said...

I am grateful for a friend like Phil Johnson, because without him I would not have a friend like Dan Phillips.

As to the hard things God has given me, he taught me in the last 6 years that it really is either retail or church, and that the two cannot be mixed at all. They are contradictory things.

Great Post, Dan. Happy Bird Day to you and yours.

chrish said...

I don't know if this applies, but I share it for God's glory.

A former pastor was discovered to be having an affair with a married woman (a friend of my family). The Elders of my church pored over the Word, prayed unceasingly, and then told the membership the details we needed to know. She confessed, asked for forgiveness, and repented. The former pastor did not.

It was in my observation (and participation as member) in this situation that I learned what it means to love a wife no matter the garbage you are forced to wade through, as the woman and her husband remain happily married to this day. I have seen the way honouring God in these situations leads to a strengthened church.

By the grace of God, I can be better prepared to honour Him should I ever find myself in a situation as painful as this. For that, I am grateful.

Michelle said...

I'm thankful for all the difficult times I've been through (I can think of four biggies) because they wonderfully magnified my need for Him and forced me to cling to my Saviour alone. The harder I have leaned on Him, the more faithful I have found Him to be.

After one particularly difficult period in my life, through which I desperately clung to Jesus and trusted Him alone, when things became easier I actually mourned the loss of that particularly close fellowship with the Lord that comes through times of adversity when everything else is stripped away.

Joe A. said...

I was looking at the Emergent-see Posters and I don't think David Crowder has ever changed his hairstyle, ever. Just had to throw that out there.

VcdeChagn said...

On Feb 7, 2002 we lost a set of twins in the womb. They were due in August.

On Feb 25th, 2003, God blessed us with our first son. Along came number two in August 2004.

Number 3 was a true blessing, arriving on Feb 7, 2006. Number 4 arrived 16 months later in June of 2007.

We found out last week that number 5 will be a boy...five sons from the ashes of mourning for lost children.

My oldest was sitting in my lap the other day during devotions (Family Altar time...whatever you want to call it..a daily activity at our house) and he said something about wishing we had twins like the ones mommy lost.

I told him that would be nice, but if we had the twins, we wouldn't have had him, and that God always knows what he's doing.

When we had the twins, I was committed to only having one child...MAYBE (if my wife could talk me into it) two.

Losing the twins made me realize how much of a blessing children are. I'm not "quiver full" per se but for ME...it will take God to change the heart he's given me through this process if we're to limit the number of children that we will have.

So I thank God for taking from us what we wanted so badly, because in the end the blessings were multiplied.

And to be honest, I thanked him at the time, but I cried out for understanding as well....and God has graciously granted me that understanding.

rebecca said...

I'm thankful for my trials over the past few years--losing my husband to cancer after a year and a half of illness, raising teenaged children alone--because I've known God's faithfulness in a way I could not have known it without them. I used to be fearful and anxious, but now I know from experience that God is trustworthy in everything. My trials have been good gifts from my good God.

Barbara said...

I am thankful for all the times that God's answer was "No" when
I had begged and pleaded, face
down, with fists pounding the floor for a "Yes".

Chris said...

While I have so much to thank our gracious God for this Thanksgiving, one place I'd like to give thanks to everyone I learn and grow from is here at PYRO: may God richly bless you Phil, Dan, Frank, and all of the regulars here...as iron sharpens iron! Thank You!

Rustywolverine said...

Hello to all and praise God! I praise him for way of the master radio and the solid biblical preaching of men like Paul washer and
Leonard ravenhill. Without them, I would still be in a church, that even with all their cleverness and might, was lulling people into a false sense
of security through their squishy preaching and man centered gospel. I am also thankful for the difficult person that God placed in my life at work. Because through this person I was able to see myself more clearly than I wanted to. thus realizing that I don't have it all together! Praise be to God our father!

"Doctor" Matt said...

That's going to be difficult, but I'm trying to thank God for the hell that the last year and a half have been. He's made a lot of good things come from it. HE is great and able to make beautiful things from our worst follies and sins!

Stefan said...

Although God has been leading me through some "rough providence" in two areas of my life right now—which I thank Him for, for the moulding of me that He's doing—I also thank Him for the amazing riches of blessings He pours out every day: just in all those small, daily providences he graciously provides like sweet manna in the wilderness. I have learned so much in how I need to grow in character as a Christian man through the refining-by-fire He's been doing in my life this last year and a half.

(I also thank Him that after He regenerated me, there was a season in my life when I has the relative peace to devote to reading, discovering this wonderful blog, studying the historic confessions, reading through the Bible, etc., to lay the groundwork for the real Christian walk that lay ahead.)

I thank Him also for the "rough providence" He's led me through in the past: to break my spirit, and humble my pride, and tear down the wall of my heart, and give me ears to hear, and regenerate me, and give me life, and breathe life into my dead bones, and give me a heart of flesh, and regraft me into His beautiful olive tree.

Like Witness said, everything else after that is gravy.

Warren said...

truly it is hard to say thanks after realizing that the only friends you have are the electric bills, water bills, landlord in a jobless state. may God grant me a thankful heart. truly it is humbling.

Susan said...

All this talk about gravy--I made my first-ever batch of gravy today, along with a first-ever batch of mashed potatoes and some first-ever turkey white meat (quite moist and tasty, too--looking forward to the dark meat at a later time). We had these for lunch, not dinner--how's that for a family tradition?

It is difficult for me to give thanks for the past 4 years. Things seem to have gotten worse instead of better. Most friends I know seem to be drenched in the "gravy" that I've never had (and still don't have). I thought about this quite a bit today while preparing for our ground-breaking Thanksgiving meal, and yet somehow I know deep down that I NEED to give thanks,so here are some of them:

For starters, some people have nothing to eat, but our fridge is stocked to overflowing. Another thing would be my current job. Around the time I started, the economy took a severe downward turn--but the Lord provided me a government job! There are many unemployed who would do anything to be in the position I'm in (although I try to remind myself not to depend on the State for my security). And if anything, the Lord does hear my prayers and answer them, even if He has struck me in the past with pains indescribable, the consequences of which still resonate and wound me today.

Do I still sound somewhat bitter because He smote me? I think there is still very much a pool of bile sitting inside, but I'm trying not to let it get the better of me. We are told to give thanks in whatever circumstances, and that should be one of the things that distinguishes us from the non-believers. After all, our lives may be a mist--but we aren't hopeless, because we do not base our hopes on circumstances, but on Him who is faithful and immutable and wise.

(May the Lord cause me to be more and more thankful each passing day....)

Dan said...

Interesting that you happened to blog on the area I was dwelling on today. I'm currently in the midst of the challenge of healing from a church wound and a bad decision. I must say that it is very hard for me today to be able to thank God in the midst of pain. I do know however, that it will be a part of His perfect plan. I know He has his glory at the center of this. I know one day I will look back at this and see him clearly. It is very hard in the midst of the storm. This has been a tough Thanksgiving, but thanks be to a sovereign God who will bring me through this!!!

Hadassah said...

I am thankful for the day I almost bled to death, and for the difficult months that followed: for the baby that kept forgetting to breathe during the first six months of life, for the pastor's wife who came and sat with me every morning, for the church family that brought meals every night for a month, and for the horrible pride that God seperated me from during the whole process.

That day and those months were several years ago. It was a very difficult providence. But God was faithful to work all of it together for my good and His glory.

Gilbert said...

I'm thankful that:

God rescued and saved me from Hell, which I absolutely deserve, from a Savior who absolutely didn't

God uses a wretch like me to preach the Gospel;

God provides for me each day;

God gives me strength, life and breath...

All through the easy times. And then...

About a decade ago I found myself out of a job. After nearly a year of temporary jobs, I was down to my last $5. Driving back to my apartment, I remember exactly where I was, what lane I was driving in, and holding it up to God and saying to the effect of "Lord, this is my last $5. It's yours, and I am trusting You to provide me, as You have promised."

No, a million dollars didn't crash land through my roof. But soon thereafter, I got a stable, very good job that I'm still at and enjoy, and am most grateful to God for. When you have nobody left to trust but God, that's when you realize that trusting God through our Lord Jesus Christ is sufficient. And I learned that in a big way over 10 years ago.

Thank you, Jesus.

Gilbert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gilbert said...

Off-topic but I frankly couldn't care less because this is way overdue: Thank YOU, Frank, Phil, and Dan for your thoughtful and inspired words from God's Word. As silly as I can be sometimes, I just wanted to let each and every one of you know that I am thankful for what you do here to edify the body of Christ. And I know it IS hard for you to do this so consistently...as trials last month proved it. But I soak in every word you put out there. We *are* watching your walk from a distance, and know the "pressure is on". And Christ shines through every post you make (except for those wretched cat posts ;-) ).

Thank you, gentlemen.

rose mawhorter said...

I'm very thankful to God for the terrible times that I went through as I child and teenager--horribly ostracized. If I hadn't experienced that I probably would have never understood the grace of God.

I have a close friend that used to cut herself as a teenager. After becoming a Christian she was terribly embarrassed by her scars. Then one day she had a bad kitchen fire that burned arms. When her wounds healed she discovered that her cutting scars were all gone. She like to say that God purified her by fire. I know that she finds it a very symbolic of God's grace to remove the internal scars of our sin.

Kim K. said...

The day after tomorrow will mark the second anniversary of our 17-year old son's sudden death from asthma. Humanly, it is hard to think in terms of benefits from an experience like that. But I am thankful for all the things God has taught me in the past two years. He has taught me more about his love and providence than I could have ever learned otherwise. His Word is so comforting. He's allowed me to see other people's pain and not be afraid to reach out. I have a wonderful relationship with the young man who was with my son when he died. Our family is much closer and appreciates each other so much more. We don't take a single day for granted. When I found out my son was gone I couldn't imagine being happy again. But today, even though I still grieve my loss, I am more thankful than I ever could have been without going through such a hard situation.

chrish said...

DJP is so sneaky, he has everyone who reads these comments praising God along with the writers! It's as if he thinks that glorifying God might be mankind's purpose or something...

Marie said...

As odd as it sounds, I actually felt very close to God during the difficult months I was repenting of addictions (alcohol and eating disorder) because I was clinging to His Hand in utter dependence. I remember just constantly praying for strength, being immersed in the Word and letting it convict and encourage me, and believing that I was forgiven every time I stumbled and repented again.

He completely delivered me and for that I'm grateful, but the journey itself strengthened my relationship with God immeasurably and taught me what surrender meant. While I wouldn't wish that kind of bondage on anyone, I came to realize that repentance is truly a gift and the verse in Romans about His kindness leading us there isn't just words.

Penn Tomassetti said...

I was giving thanks yesterday (while my jaw was a little tense), for all the difficult things in my life, not having any idea you posted on this.

Shows how gracious God is to teach me these things.

I'm thankful for the bitter pain of rejection. It never seems to end, but it will one day and joy will be all that's left.

Penn Tomassetti said...

adding to my previous comment:

I am thankful for the pain I feel when others reject the truth, I could care less if they accept or reject me, but when they reject the truth that can save them, it then produces all kinds of breaking up in me of mental and physical and spiritual painful side affects, and I know God is teaching me something through that. Or working out His purposes through it.

John Goodell said...

Good post, it caused me to ponder the wonder and goodness of God. A few years ago the bottom of my life dropped out from under me and I lost everthing that was dear to me (except my treasure) and today I can look back with thanksgiving. He knows what He is doing. "Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how unscrutable his ways!"

The IBEX Scribe said...

It has been a rough year for my entire family (parents and siblings), and this has given cause for all of us to reflect on how good God is through all of this. Death, cancer, broken hearts and unemployment - this has been our 2008.

Personally I found my life turned completely upside down. Things that were very, very dear to me were taken away. These were things that I had specifically thanked God for giving to me, and He chose to take them away.

The truth is that I needed it. It put my focus back on Him. He has been faithful to me and has always provided more than sufficiently. I am thankful that God understands what I truly need so much better than I do.

It is hard to be thankful in the midst of the trial, but when we look back, we see the hand of God clearly in our lives, and I am thankful that God loves us enough to teach us through the hard times.

Kyle said...

I'm thankful for God wrecking my marriage because bringing me to that complete pit of despair is what caused me to finally turn to him in true repentance.

But now that I'm saved, I just want my marriage (and my wife) healed by Jesus, too. :(

Malcolm said...

Thanks for the post, and I will offer my thanks to my faithful God.

This past January my third son, Corban, was stillborn. When we were told that Corban would die (and yes this was a name we choose for him long before we knew what was coming) we were of course devastated. But our God gave us two weeks with him before he was still born, and the miracles God has given us in our medical technologies allowed us to see he via ultrasound weekly. I remember talking with our doctor the day Corban died and describing the last two weeks as God's grace given to us.

It was the first time in my life as a disciple of my Lord Jesus Christ that I think I have begun to understand what it means that, "my grace is sufficient for you...".

I thank my God for my other 2 children, and also for the 23 weeks we were able to care for and love Corban. I also thank God for the promise that I will one day know my son who I do not know now.

May God be praised.

Solameanie said...

I am still in the process of learning to be thankful in all things. Five years ago, I went through a house fire where we lost almost everything we had. My precious library, family heirlooms including a mini-grandfather clock (I think they called it a kitchen clock) that had been passed down from father to son since at least my great-grandfather's day. It was heartbreaking.

But in that process, I began to learn for real that material possessions didn't mean all that much. And as much as I loved the clock, it caused some difficulty within the family over some who wanted it regardless of the tradition. No clock, no dispute. A severe mercy, yet a mercy nonetheless. For that and many other things, I am thankful.

TruthMatters said...

Though there have been a number of trials and challenges that my wife and I have experienced through the years, the one that is on my mind right now is the following:

In April of '07, the church that my wife and I had thought was the last church we'd ever go to (i.e., they'd marry our kids off, bury us, etc.) merged with another church to form a new entity. While in many ways that's a better thing to happen than a church split, it feels just like one. Everything changed; the new pastor's philosophies were emerg***-leaning. And though we knew nothing of the emerg*** movement at the time, we knew there was something wrong.

Through the six-month ordeal that followed, God raised me up, taught me what His word said, gave me strength to defend His truth, grew my faith immensely, and increased the love I have for Him and His word. It wasn't easy - I wanted to leave immediately and find a better place, but God had to teach me about what that "better place" would look like.

You see, I wasn't where I am now... I was unsure of many of my beliefs, not knowing the "why", and oftentimes not even the "what" was consistent. It was only through the experience of seeing what I knew was wrong that God taught me what was right. The easy thing would have been to run away and find another evanjellybean church (plenty of 'em around here), but I am so grateful to God for making me stick around long enough to fight the good fight.

In the end, of course, God is (always!) gracious. He led us to a church that is faithful to preach His word. We couldn't be happier where we are now, but we'd never have even looked for it, had we not gone through the pain of last year.

On another note, I want to thank the Pyro guys for this blog - your passion for Christ is infectious, and I can only thank God that He continues to lead you in this work.

Randall said...

I wrote this on November 24, but just noticed your very timely post...

"Today is a very special day for our family.

Seven years ago (November 24, 2001) , at 6 AM to be precise, my wife and I stood together watching our home of 25 years consumed in flames and smoke, destroying almost everything. We watched as firefighters worked valiantly for what seemed like hours to save our home, at great personal risk to their lives and health, but with little effect. And a few hours later, we stood quietly “alone” trying to figure out what the next step would be.

But we were never really “alone”. Our loving, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, majestic, sovereign God stood with us at all times. And we had almost a palpable sense of His presence through it all.

By God’s grace…

I was “running late” for a prayer meeting, and had let the dogs out. So I was still at home to be with my wife as the fire started and began to rage.
My wife “happened” to get up early to take a decongestant. Otherwise she would have been asleep and alone if I had left “on time”.
Our son was away at The Master's College. Geoff’s bedroom was directly above the 4-alarm fire.
My wife called 911 on her cell phone because we had no landlines because of the fire.
We were able to give the Battalion Chief of the local fire department a Gideon New Testament as a gesture of appreciation for his service to our family. And we later gave each firefighter a Testament as we stood before them and gave them thanks for their selfless service that day.
And so, so many other divine, merciful providences are evident as we look back in wonderment and praise at that very eventful morning.
That afternoon, as we stood there in smoky clothes, our Pastor (who was fighting cancer at the time) went to a local department store to buy us some clothes so we could be in church the next day. We no longer qualified to sit in the “fragrance free zone” of our local church…so we sat front and center!

Believe me when I say there was no place we wanted to be more than at church worshipping our God.

The Lord put the following passage on my heart as we worshipped about 24 hours after losing our home…from Habakkuk 3.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Later, we saw our church family support us in many loving ways.

Over 50 church members came by the following Saturday as we began the long and painful process of inventorying the losses and attempting to salvage what we could…and they came back the next two Saturdays to help out as well.
Our Associate Pastor found my wife’s wedding ring in the midst of the charred remains of the bedroom.
We knew we had loving people praying for us…and that meant more than can possibly be described.
I could so easily continue to extol our Sovereign God for His mercies. His loving hand was upon us at all times and in all ways…and we know it very well.

Thanksgiving will never be the same for us. We approach this time of year with a special sense of how deeply grateful we are for the sustaining mercies of our God.

To Him be glory and honor now and forevermore."

jeffz said...

This is my first blog here but I have been following for about 2 weeks, so I am thankful to have found this site blog. God has truly worked a work in this man, who was once a lost, lonely, junky, thief, lier, ect. I am amazed at the metamorphisis from death to life that has been given to me. So this thanksgiving is absolutly glorious for God is truly restoring all that the enemy has stolen.

Sharon said...

I am super-blessed and encouraged by all the testimonies here of God's love, grace, sovereignty (my personal favorite!), and care for His own.

My own personal thanks? It is for God's infinite grace to me, a sinner who deserves no less than an eternity in hell. Why did He love me so much to send His Son to die in my place? It's something I'll never understand until I can ask Him face to Face!

A Musician by Grace

~Mark said...

I'm not going to pretend that I am able to give thanks FOR the tough things, but I am more than able to give thanks for what God did through and with them.

I've gained an appreciation for 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which says in the NASB "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

I can thank God that he has made me a comfort to those who've experienced death, (just came from another memorial an hour or so ago) relational heartbreak, suicide, loss of home and all possessions, sexual abuse, physical beatings at home and by strangers for various reasons, lives given to sexual promiscuity of depraved levels, drug abuse, homelessness and more.

In fact I can remember crying to God several times years ago that I didn't want to be able to help anybody else.

He then helped me to understand that He would help me through all these things and because of that make me able to extend His help to people around me who wouldn't think anybody could have ever experienced what they did and not only survived but been restored.

I'm not gonna lie to you, while I have met people who profess thanks for the terrible pains in their past I am NOT thankful that those things happened to me. They really, deeply, truly hurt. Maybe one day I'll reach that maturity but I'm just not there. However, I am from the bottom of my heart grateful that God used all those horrible things in my life to bring help and encouragement to more people than I can count in the years since.

~Mark said...

It's such a deep blessing that God said to be thankful -IN- all things rather than -FOR- them.

Michelle said...

My wonderful husband will be deployed in a few weeks. Most people who hear say, "I'm so sorry." What they don't always understand is that there is something far bigger than the physical reality of being without my husband (and dealing with children who will miss their daddy).

Thanking God for difficult circumstances is made possible when we exercise faith in the person of God and the eternal weight of glory that we do not always see. I sincerely look forward with thanksgiving to see what God will do, because of who He is. My father-in-law recently shared this passage with me, and it's been one I've been thinking about often:

Although the fig tree shall not blossom,
neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labour of the olive shall fail,
and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold,
and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Sharon said...

Michelle: My wonderful husband will be deployed in a few weeks.

Michelle, please extend my sincere thanks and appreciation for his service to our country. And thank you for your sacrifice, as well. May God richly bless and keep you and him both!

Andrew said...

Dan - thanx for the post!
Frank Turk said "that it really is either retail or church" How profound this is this time of year!

I myself would like to thank God most of all for not giving up on me... I fail him and He still love me - He is AWESOME!

Becky, a slave of Christ said...

Dan,
Your post prompted me to do something I have been planning to do for some time. I have made mention here and there that I am unable to eat gluten. How that came about is a long, painful story which I have related here. In the midst of that pain, I have had to cling to our Lord and the truths of His Word. I have never lost faith in Him, because my faith is a gift from Him and He is holding me fast.

It is not easy to be thankful for pain, but blessings have come. God has taught me that it really is possible to have peace when it makes no sense.

Rachael Starke said...

I've been trying for two days to properly articulate and offer thanks to God for an estrangement with a family member that is still very present, rather than in the past. It makes holidays extremely painful, rather than joyful. But I am profoundly thankful that in the midst of this trial God has taught me that:

Only His words and His Spirit can change a heart. If it happens, soli Deo gloria.

I truly do desire to obey Jesus out of ever increasing love for Him. And that means that I will confess and repent of any sin, even one against someone who will refuse to offer mercy and forgiveness.

This means I really, truly am His child, with His Spirit working in me. Only He could give me a heart that wants to pursue her as I was pursued, forgive her as I have been forgiven, wait for her as He waited for me. (I want to do these things, although I often fail. But even the wanting is such a miracle of grace.)

It's like you said, Dan. I could have learned all these things in a book. In fact, they were all there for me to see, but my fleshly eyes wouldn't see them. Now, however, I fight every day to see them more and more clearly, so that I can have the blessing of future lessons learned, without the overshadowing of regret.