So here we go… Blog post #2…
I have plenty to be thankful for in my life. I have an unbelievably awesome second home in UMHB with caring professors and amazing friends, wonderful friends back home, a family that never stops pushing me to reach my full potential while encouraging me to rely on Christ in all of life’s challenges, and most importantly, a sovereign Lord that loves me beyond all my human shortcomings. I have much to be thankful for.
The main point of this post, however, is not about being thankful for all the good things that happen in life, but the bad things; the things that cause pain, that start to stir up so much emotion, and at times cause us much frustration. Now, you may be thinking… “Joshua, why on Earth would you be thankful for the bad?”
The answer is this… Because it is the difficult circumstances that cause me to rely on an all-knowing, always present, always loving God. And this gives me so much hope. Hope that guides me through these very challenges, because I know that I serve a Savior who knows my every desire, want, hurt, and emotion that I could possibly ever go through.
As I have mentioned before, I suffer from severe Crohn’s Disease. Throughout high school and for a short period of time in college, I was shy about the fact and embarrassed that I had a stomach problem. But when I realized that we all endure various problems in life, God showed me that I can use this pain for His glory.
So many times I questioned God, “Why me? Why must I suffer with this?” Too often have I asked “Why?” and this is easy to do when we are struggling for answers, struggling to understand why we have to go through this pain.
I don’t know the answers, and I never will, but one thing I do know is that all of us face trials. All of us face fears, emotions, pain, hardships, and we will continue to do so at various times throughout our lives. Yet, we can use all of those circumstances to share the Gospel by sharing how God grants us peace and gets us through all of those trials.
This is why, every time I think about it, I try to thank God for my suffering, and quite often it is the hardest thing to pray, but I try to pray it anyways. While I also pray to be well, to one day experience what it’s like to live some semblance of a normal nutritional diet, I pray most of all to be closer to Christ. Because I would rather be sick for the rest of my life and be close to Him than to be well and yet have us be miles apart.
Romans 5:1-5 shows us that we can find hope in our trials and sufferings…
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (NIV)
These verses show me that in all circumstances, good or bad, I should boast in Him. I may not understand why I go through what I go through, and I’m okay with that. What I do know is that my sufferings can create in me a desire to conquer other challenges in life while showing Christ’s love to others in the meantime. My sufferings make me who I am, and it is through my trials and imperfections that I can place my trust in Jesus Christ who gives me hope, hope that passes all understanding.
So many people in this world, even in our communities, do not have that hope, because they do not have that relationship with Christ. I cannot even imagine going through life’s challenges without knowing God. This is why we must proclaim the Good News that is the story of our blessed Lord and Savior, so that they too can have hope, hope in that we, as my favorite hymn says, “can face uncertain days, BECAUSE HE LIVES!”
So when you feel lonely, hurt, and afraid, place your hope in Jesus Christ and turn to yet another pair of verses in scripture, 1 Peter 5:6-7:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (HCSB)
And this is why I thank Him for my sufferings. These trials make me the person I am today, and I can use these circumstances for His glory. With my testimony, I can proclaim His Holy name to those around me, that Jesus died for my sins, that He faced unimaginable pain, much worse than I will ever imagine, that He rose from death, and He did all this to show that no matter what, I can cast all my troubles on Him, because He cares for me!
For anyone who reads this blog post, I pray that you find the courage to thank God for every circumstance in life, and that you find ways to use your trials to give Him glory by sharing your lives with those around you.
New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Holman Christian Standard Bible. Bible Gateway. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
Because He Lives by the Gaither Vocal Band:
Because He Lives by David Crowder and Bill Gaither: