2 Reasons to Give Thanks In Suffering
As the leaves fall and the weather cools, our attention turns towards the Thanksgiving season. Giving thanks during this time of year may come easily to some, but for others, suffering overshadows any thoughts of blessing. You may be present at the dinner table, but your thoughts are far from the Thanksgiving festivities.
How do you give thanks when you are in pain and your current life stage is in stark contrast to that of everyone around you?
I want to encourage you with two truths that have helped me during a long season of struggle. My hope is that these truths will give you perspective and help turn the dry reservoir of your soul to a fountain flowing with thanksgiving, even in the middle of suffering.
1. Trials Make You More Like Jesus
No doubt the trial in your life right now is hard, but it is not bad.
God uses our difficulties to awaken our hearts to our need of him. Often, suffering shows us what has our attention more than God. It reminds us that we live in a broken world. These seasons of suffering can be the tender hand of God revealing what we lack and reinforcing our dependence on him (2 Cor. 1:9).
For born again believers, God is always in the process of making us more into the image of his son, Jesus Christ. We cannot obtain perfection on this side of heaven, but we ought to continually strive towards righteousness (Matt. 5:48). In doing so, we can be changed from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18).
This means that every time you face a setback or a disappointment or a challenging situation it provides an opportunity to become more like Jesus.
Though it’s natural to want relief from our suffering, it’s even better to want to be conformed to the image of Jesus.
I encourage you to choose thankfulness in the midst of your suffering, because suffering allows you to become more like Jesus. Pray that your desire to look like Jesus would far outweigh your desire for the suffering to end.
2. Suffering Leads to Thanksgiving
John Piper put it well when he said, “Hardship melts into worship when we realize that God is always for us.”
Using suffering as a means of worship has the power to transform how you view your pain (Job 1:21-22). Suffering can lead us to thanksgiving because, as Christians, we know that God is our help in time of need (Heb. 4:16). And as we are being formed into the image of Jesus we can give God the glory (Job 42:1-6).
So, don’t waste the trial that you are in. Rather, ask God to show you what he wants to teach you during this time of distress. Choose to give thanks in your suffering because it can lead to worship.
The next time you find your self seated around a holiday table wondering if anyone knows what you are battling, remember that God knows. He hears your tear-filled cries and sees your aching heart (Ps. 34:17-18). Trust that God has a purpose behind your suffering and that such a purpose is worthy of giving thanks.