A friend battling multiple health issues shared she is experiencing excruciating pain. “It says in the Bible we are to be thankful at all times and in all circumstances; I’m having a hard time doing that when I’m in so much pain.”
The Apostle Paul is the ultimate role model for being thankful in all circumstances. He was shipwrecked, imprisoned, tortured, starved. His unfailing love, trust, and knowledge that God would never leave him or forsake him kept Paul going? But was he crazy? Did he not feel pain? He was alone…. or was he? Scripture tells us at least 100 times, that God will never leave us or forsake us. How do we humans keep our faith without a real; flesh and blood; person telling us we’re loved; we’ll be okay? Circumstance causes us to question: Did God give me this disease; why did I lose my spouse; job; did I do something wrong? The answers are: He didn’t give you a disease, no matter what he loves you, he died for you. We live in a fallen world where death, disease and evil happen. Humans have a free will so sin happens. Times of suffering and pain are times we grow the most; learning not to go it alone. Reliance on God in every aspect of our lives is paramount. Our goal is to have a personal relationship with him. Notice I didn’t say a religion with him, I said a relationship with him. It’s taken me years to get to the point of my faith not being in a religion, but in a relationship. God says, “take me by my right hand and I’ll walk with you.”
Romans 12:12 NIV “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Joyful in hope, for me, is where I’m going to spend eternity. Patient in affliction: If I focus on what I’m supposed to learn through my trials; I will be given wisdom, and knowledge, to use to help others by drawing from my own experiences. (Sometimes, I say, “Lord, what is it I’m supposed to learn from this so I don’t have to keep repeating?”) Faithful in prayer: Thanking him for what he’s given me. I’m happiest when doing things to help others. Matthew 25:40 NIV “The King will replay,” ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you did for me.’
Things to be thankful for: The sun, rain to nourish the trees, flowers, crops that sustain us. Children, grandchildren, relatives, friends, even if they don’t meet your needs or support you. Being patient with them and giving them grace is your gift to them and to you. Be thankful for those God has sent in your life; those angels who come when you haven’t even asked, who help you through a tough time or crises, then leave never to be seen again.
How can I be joyful doing for others, when I can barely take care of myself you ask? It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. Sending a card; phone call; meal for someone who has been sick; lost a loved one; struggling emotionally. If you can’t cook a meal, and are able, call the person and ask what their favorite restaurant is and have a meal delivered. If you can’t do anything but just survive the day yourself, you can give the best gift anyone could give — the gift of prayer. Everyone needs it, especially non-believers!
James 1:2-3 NIV 2 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” In other words, “the things you go through, make you who you are.” The hardest scripture that I struggle with: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” To be perfectly honest, this really gets to me. Does God really want me to have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis where my lungs have scarred; there’s no cure; when the disease progresses to its final stages; I’ll be on oxygen 24/7; my lungs won’t oxygenate my vital organs; they’ll finally shut down; my last days/hours spent gasping for breath while given medications so I don’t panic because I can’t breathe? Is this what I’m supposed to give thanks for? This is the will of God for me?? Answering this, the Holy Spirit conveyed to me, you just stated, “the things we go through make us who we are.” God is using you to reach people with your Hope for the Breath-less Charity whose purpose is to raise research money for IPF; help patients with bills; educate about IPF. God has given you a purpose and a passion through knowledge and wisdom you’ve acquired to help patients. Writing allows you to achieve this.
The biggest thank you is to thank him for sending his son to die on the cross for your sins. Picture a box wrapped with a beautiful bow, and someone says, “here’s a gift for you, all you have to do is accept it.” Inside, is the gift of life where you will see God daily forever. Simply say: “Lord I’m a sinner, I have sinned against you and my neighbor, (name your sins) I ask forgiveness for these sins and the sins I may have forgotten. Come in to my heart and be my Lord and Savior from this moment on, help me daily to live a life like yours.” After you have said this prayer, you can say: “I know where I’m going.”
I hope this story has helped you. Writing it helped me. It was written by me with the Holy Spirit’s help. I give God all the glory!
~Ruth O’Bryan~ 2020
Inspired by a piece the great evangelist Billy Graham wrote on the subject.