In the second message of this series, we look at the second aspect of growing in gratitude through every season of life: learning to be thankful in the midst of difficult circumstances. The old saying, ‘whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ may be true, as far as it goes, but it’s based on the wrong question. The growing disciple shouldn’t be asking how a difficult circumstance makes them stronger in some generic way, we should be asking, “How is this trial or difficulty making me more like Christ?” Lamentations 3 helps us name some things for which we can be thankful as we navigate difficulties.
First, we can be thankful that trials or difficulties reveal to us our need for the Lord. Our struggles can drive us to look to ourselves, the world, or even to want an escape. But the Lord is our “portion” and He stands ready to give us Himself if we will look to Him. There’s no greater thing than the Lord can give to us than the gift of Himself.
Second, we can be thankful that waiting time is not wasted time. As we wait on the Lord (a posture of hopeful expectation), a space opens up for us to deepen our prayers, meditate on His Word, and even serve others. The Lord works in that ‘space’, growing us in trust and dependence on Him.
Third, we can be thankful that difficult circumstances can lead us to repentance. It may very well be, as it was for the people of Judah in the Old Testament, that our own sin plays a role in the difficulties we face. The Lord may be using that circumstance to help us see our need to repent of sin. Repentance brings a fresh experience of God’s grace and restores us.
Finally, we can be thankful that the Lord ALWAYS works for our good. It is not the Lord’s heart to harm us or keep us in a perpetual place of distress and shame. As Romans 8.28 says, He is able to use ALL the things that happen to shape our character and make us more like Jesus, which is our ultimate destiny.