We’re a little early with Thanksgiving greetings, but I’m inspired by all those thankful folks on Facebook! They absolutely put me to shame with their consistency and stick-tuitive-ness.
I have a hard time remembering to take my vitamins every day, let alone maintaining a thankful heart every day leading up to Thanksgiving. And some even continue through November 30th. They should get an extra helping of turkey and dressing next Thursday!
And I love the challenge of Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, to embrace everyday blessings by chronicling God’s gifts.
But who do I thank for my troubles? Who do I blame for the hard things?
It all started when…
I agreed to teach a workshop on, “Dealing With Discouragement.” Terrible idea! What was I thinking? It’s like praying for patience—you can be sure the Lord will provide ample opportunities to exercise that patient-muscle!
So, here we go with discouragement: My computer hard drive crashed. A family member’s job is in jeopardy. My grandkid has Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (yes, that’s a real condition). Family misunderstandings abound. I’ve gotten ZERO writing done. And I want to go live in a hole.
Who To Thank, Who To Blame?
Did you notice above, where I said, “The Lord will provide ample opportunities to exercise that patience-muscle.” Why did I blame God for testing patience—or challenging me with discouragement?
Was it the Lord who made my computer hard drive crash, gave my grandkid a nasty disease, threatened my family member’s job, etc., etc., etc.? Or was it Satan who did all those awful things?
If I’m going to be thankful, I want to thank the right Person.
And if I’m going to be mad, I’d like to rant at the right person.
Let’s look at Scriptures and try to figure out who to thank for our troubles…
Who Is Tempter? Who Is Rescuer?
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” James 1:13-14
Great news—except my hard drive has no evil desires, so we can’t blame a machine for tempting itself. And I can hardly blame my one-year-old grandbaby for a wicked disease. But…this Scripture clearly states that God isn’t responsible for “tempting” or instigating evil. (We’ll get to the allowing-evil part in a minute.)
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
This Scripture tells me that bad things happen in this sin-sick world. We will experience discouragement, pain, and misunderstandings because humankind dwells in a broken Creation. But our faithful God always provides rescue for His children. That’s good to hear.
A Heavenly Scene
I saw something while reading Job 1 this week that I’d never understood before. A relationship. A dance. A system of interaction that helped me understand evil in this world and why my Father God allows it. Read this passage in Job, and concentrate on God’s position in relation to Satan and to Job:
“Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’
‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’
The Lord said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’
Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” Job 1:8-12
Where is God in relation to Satan and Job? Over? Under? Between? Master? Servant? Leader? Follower?
I envision God as a Teacher, Job as His student, and Satan as a hired proctor (test-giver):
- God—as a Master Teacher offers His student Job to the tester for examination—to prove to both student and test-giver that the student has learned his lessons well. The Master Teacher already knew His student would pass the test.
- Satan—as a “hired” tester, a proctor, for a specific exam (like hired test-givers for the SAT, ACT, etc.). He was given strict parameters for what and how he could test the beloved student.
- Job—as a student of the Master Teacher, he had been groomed and prepared through loving relationship for the test about to be given.
Thanking My Heavenly Father
I was a pretty good test-taker in school, but on my current exam—the one on the crashed hard drive, grandbaby illness, and family stresses—I’m not doing too well.
One of Satan’s tactics is to trick me into wrong answers, wrong attitudes, and wrong perceptions. That deceiving-tester tries to sow seeds of suspicion against my Master Teacher. Well, I’m not buying it—and neither did Jesus’s brother, the Apostle James:
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” James 1:16-18
I WILL thank my Heavenly Father, my Master Teacher, for trusting me with the lessons placed before me. I will recognize them as His good and perfect gifts that are leading me to maturity.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Happy Thanksgiving—may we happily give thanks!
- I WILL thank my Heavenly Father for trusting me with the lessons placed before me.
- Consider Job 1 afresh. A relationship. A dance. A system that helps explain evil in this world.
- Who do I thank for my troubles? Who do I blame for the hard things? Let Scripture tell you.
- What hard things are YOU thankful for today?