Gratitude

Thank God for Something

There many things to be thankful for, but we do not always acknowledge them. Often we do not even realize their existence. We take so much for granted. Just looking at the title of this song reminds me to be thankful – to be grateful for all I have. As it is written in I Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV),

give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus

So be grateful for everything, even when life seems hard and nothing seems to be going right, because the testing of our faith develops perseverance, and when when we persevere, we mature (James 1:3-4).

There is everything to be grateful for, and is nothing to lose for being grateful. Gratefulness gives us sight and heals wounds.

While some losses may truly hurt, we must never stop being grateful. Job all his wealth in a series of attacks and in a storm, yet he did not curse God. He lost all his children that night, too. But when he heard all these, he worshiped God. [Reflections on Job].

What can we do when it is hard to be grateful?

(This I learned from a blimeycow video, though I believe we are all aware of this on some level. They just put it into words and into a video.)

If you don’t want to watch the three-minute video, I’ll say it here: List all the things that got you to where you are at this very moment, and you’ll find a lot to be grateful for.

  1. Your Internet connection’s slow: Be thankful you have Internet connection. Be thankful that you can read (you’re reading this right now).
  2. You have finals coming up and you’re really stressed out: Be thankful for your education.
  3. You tore a whole in your favorite sweater: Check the brand of that sweater; check its quality, the materials its made of – be thankful you could afford that sweater in the first place. (Or, if it was a gift, be thankful someone was kind enough to give it to you.)
  4. You lost your job: Be thankful you had a job. Be thankful for all you were able to purchase because of that job. Be thankful for what your house or apartment. Be thankful for the food on your plate.
  5. You lost a family member: Be thankful for the time you had with them. Be thankful that they’re no longer suffering (especially if they were sick). Be thankful that they were cared for while they were alive. (If they were murdered, though I hope they weren’t, be thankful it was a quick death.)

There are a lot of other situations you could be dealing with and a lot of variables in these situations that make yours unique. My list was no where near comprehensive. But I hope you get the idea. There is much to be thankful for, even in dire situations. You just have to look and see.

 

Reflections on Job

We’re all guilty of sin, but there was one man among us who sinned the least – and that man was Job. Not Jesus –  He didn’t sin at all, and though He was man, He was also God. Job was only human. The very first verse in the book of Job talks about his blamelessness and uprightness. It also talks about why he was so righteous: he feared God and shunned evil.

It amazes me how someone can be as dedicated to God as Job was.  There have been others, of course. David was called a man after God’s own heart. The martyrs all died for God.

But Job’s case is different: he didn’t die for God. He didn’t understand why he was suffering. The martyrs knew what they were getting into. Job didn’t. It just happened, and he didn’t know why. He questioned God. But in the end, he said, “It is not for me to question God.”

That same spirit that caused him to say that was the same one that caused him to say,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.

Job 1:21 (NIV)

Imagine that. He also said, “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?” How could he say that? How could he still trust God and put his faith in Him?

Even little troubles shake me: some times I try to solve them all by myself, other times I panic. God is not the first I go to when rattled, though He should be.

Job’s response to what happened to him shows something about his character, and about his relationship with God.

1) It shows that Job really did love and fear God, but not because of what he has or what he has been told. He loves and fears God “just because.” He doesn’t need material wealth to speak for his relationship with God.

2) It shows that Job knew God. He didn’t just know God from stories. He didn’t assume to know God from the Laws. He sought God. He knew God beyond the Laws.

Job is not closest Bible character there is to God. That title could very well go to Moses, because God spoke to Moses “face to face” as one does with a friend. [Moses did not see God’s face; no one can look at the face of God and live. Moses saw God from behind.] Job was also not given the title “man after God’s own heart.” That title went to David.

What then does Job have that sets him apart? He was rich, but Solomon was richer. He knew the Law, but he was no Pharisee. He was pretty ordinary, if you really think about it. And if you really think about it, which of one of us is truly special? No one. Job was the same. But what set Job apart was his unwavering trust in God, and his remaining true till the end.

Though He slay me, I will yet trust Him.

Job 13:15 (NIV)

Mishael, Azariah, and Hananiah said something along those lines when confronted by Nebuchadnezzar regarding not bowing to the golden statue. But they knew what they were getting into. A law was passed by Nebuchadnezzar about that.

Job did not know. He was in the dark all throughout the book. Even in the end, he didn’t understand, but he trusted God. And God rewarded him material possessions in the end – for his trust and remaining true.

This is not to say that God will always materially reward us. We may suffer here, and we may remain steadfast and true, but our reward may not be given until the next life. That is the only sure reward we can anticipate – eternity with God.

Job was given plenty of opportunity to curse God, but he did not. He was given plenty of opportunity to renounce his faith, but he did not. Not everyone can remain true till the end, but he did. Despite his questions, he did. Despite his suffering, he did.

Remaining true till the end is a choice. And it is not a question of will power as some are wont to believe. It’s merely a choice. When people do not remain true, it is because they decide they want to do something else.

James Bryan Smith in The Good and Beautiful God says, “The will actually has no power. The will is the human capacity to choose … The will is more like a beast of burden that simply responds to the impulses of others.” Job was given choices, and he had the capacity to choose. He chose well, not because he was inherently morally strong, rather because he controlled his impulses. He trained himself to make choices that are for God and not for the blessings of God. Because of this, when his blessings were taken away, he could still worship God and praise Him.