John 8:32 "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." NIV

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Sermon #1

With 2010 behind me, I look to 2011 with bright eyes and high hopes. Not just because of the ambitious goals that lurk in the back of my mind about how I am going to rock a sprint triathlon, a 1/2 marathon, a 10 miler, an Olympic Triathlon, a marathon and maybe, just maybe a 1/2 Ironman (still in debate).  It is because I like new beginnings.

For me, the start of a new school year or a move to a new place meant a fresh start. A start to be who I really wanted to be. Not to be the annoying little girl that I ended up being, but a newer, fresher me. A redefined me. A "perfect" me.

Each day as a Christian is a new start. Each day, I wake up and give thanks to the Lord for all of my blessings and even my trials. Yes, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

It is very easy to thank God for my blessings but my trials, really? I am supposed to thank God for the things in my life that are going wrong? The things that are breaking me down? Things that I want to change but cannot? Behaviors that keep me distant from God? Tragedies where I find myself pleading with God, "WHY?!?!"

I had to learn how to thank God for these things. I am sure at first I was kind of sarcastic, "Yeah, thanks God helping me learn how to appreciate the job by taking it from me!" And God heard that sarcasm in my tone. It took practice... LOTS and LOTS of practice. And when it clicked it... just clicked. It was almost like as I was praying for these trials, God was taking the burden away from me.

I remember when I found out that my neighbor's daughter was diagnosed with Leukemia... being only 3 months older than my daughter. I did not understand why. I cried. I pleaded. I wanted this little girl to have a nice little childhood, not faced with needles and chemo and worry. I got on my knees... I prayed for her healing. I prayed that the family could know the peace I had with God. And suddenly, I began to thank God. I began to thank God for the doctors that ran the extra test that caught the Leukemia so early. I thanked God for the closeness of the family and friends that came together to support this little girl. I thanked God for the strength in the little girl's eyes.... and seeing that she would survive - she would beat this horrible disease! (And guess what... she did!!!!!!)

I do not think that God wants us to be thankfully for cancer; but be thankful for the circumstances surrounding it. My brother's father-in-law was diagnosed with cancer and he praised God immediately. What a seasoned Christian he was. I remember talking to him about chemo and he said with the most awesome enthusiasm, "Jennifer, there are people that I get to see at the hospital and tell them about Jesus that I would have NEVER been able to without having cancer!" Really, I thought. Really? You are happy that you have cancer because now you get to be a witness for Christ as you are being poisoned with chemo? But that was exactly what he was thinking. And boy did this man suffer. It was hard to watch him suffer with so much pain but praising God with every breath!

AMAZING example to all, and let me just tell you, I am not even close to where he was. But I am trying. I am praying that I can be thankful in ALL circumstances. Not just the ones that go my way, but the ones that God puts in my life. The ones that will force me to draw closer to God and to give up my own ambitions and to seek God's will.

The bible verse that I can hang my hat on is Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." This verse is on my RoadID tag.... because it helps to remind me. God wants good for me. When I am running alone, I spend all of my time with God. I pray, I listen, I am present with God. And I am learning... I am learning how to be thankful in all circumstances.

How are you/did you learn to be thankful in ALL circumstances?

Seek God. Trust God. Know God.

9 comments:

Pam said...

Love this post! I posted on this very thing at Thanksgiving. It's so hard. My family (in-laws) have been going through some stuff the past few months, and all of their suffering is at the hand of one man. I am trying so hard to pray for that evil soul and to be thankful, but honestly I am really, REALLY struggling with this one. I'm praying about it and trying to be sincere about it, but God knows that in my heart I'd love to get revenge instead. I wish I didn't feel that way, but I do. I hope to someday grow into the Christian that your brother's FIL is.

Julie said...

Oh, how I loved this post!! Thanks for the verse out of Jeremiah, too!! Wonderful words for me to read tonight.

H Love said...

Great post....

Elizabeth said...

Great post, thanks for the reminder.

Richelle said...

Wow, what an awesome post! Thanks for putting everything in perspective.

Kristina said...

wow, great post. Its hard to put it in that type of perspective. It's a great reminder of how much we should thank him, even for the trials.

Amanda@runninghood said...

Thank you for this.

Janet said...

awesome post. I remember Mr.Forbes the same way. He is now praising Jesus in heaven...and no doubt that other chemo patients will be joining him in heaven due to the conversations he boldly had about Jesus.

Terri said...

Excellent post! So often I am not thankful during a trial because I don't look beyond the circumstances that are right in front of me. I don't set my mind on the sovereign purpose and good God has for those trials. Many times I find that His purposes are so much bigger than my little world and often there is much about my own sinfulness He is trying to purge. That can be very humbling especially when the affliction is at the hands of someone who can seem much worse. But God has used many an evil army to bring greater holiness out of His people. When that is my focus I can rejoice in the fact that from this trial I can show a greater image of Him! When I can love my enemies, pray for those who hurt me, love biblically...it is these evidences of true faith that bring me to rejoice regardless of my circumstances. He is such a great God!