“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.“I Thessalonians 5:18
In the last two+ years, many whom I have known or been close to have passed away for various reasons. Some from cancer, some from heart attacks, some from disease, and some from old age. I have been to a funeral every month this year, and some months I have attended two. It seems like there are more people dying than ever, but I think I am just getting older and this is the reality of life. Hebrews 9:27 states, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” Death is certain, and we will all see it at some point unless the trumpet sounds for us. Death is never a pleasant thing, even though for the Christian, it is a promotion to our eternal home. Death brings sorrow and mourning, and grief is not something you can simply dispel. Grief comes on strong, and it is hard to have joy and be thankful amidst the tears.
When I read the verse above, it says that we are to be thankful in all things. We are to be thankful amidst the trials in our lives, even when that includes death. I think of the Karate Kid movie and the young teenager, Daniel, who wanted to learn karate. He employed Mr. Miyagi to teach him the tricks of the trade. Daniel was tired of being beat up at school by bullies, so he decided to make some changes in his life. He went to Mr. Miyagi’s house for training, and instead of learning karate, he was given some tasks to do around the property. He was asked to wax the cars, sand the wood decking, and paint the fence. Daniel soon grew bitter about doing the laborious tasks which seemed to have no point and no end.
Daniel challenged Mr. Miyagi, who then told Daniel to use the motions of “wax on, wax off”, “sand the floor”, and “paint the fence”. Daniel did these motions half-heartedly until live punches and kicks were thrown at him, and he was able to deflect these moves because of the muscle-memory he had built up by doing the arduous and repetitive tasks for several days. Now it all made sense. The blood, sweat, and tears he put into the hard labor was now paying off. He was able to defend himself because of what he had learned in the “trials” Mr. Miyagi had put him through. He was no longer angry because he understood why he was put through all of this.
We face trials in our lives and often don’t understand why. We go through the sorrow of losing a loved one, the helplessness of needing a job, or the struggling with wayward children. We don’t understand why God would allow these trials in our life, and we certainly are not grateful. We do not give thanks in all things, and like Daniel the Karate Kid, we question why we are going through the hardships. We are not thankful for the blood, sweat, and tears, and in some instances, we grow bitter and angry at God for what He has allowed in our lives. We do not see what He sees, and we lack faith that God knows best. Unthankfulness is sin and will lead us down a dark path.
Where are you today friend? Do you give thanks in all things, even the hard things? Do you have faith in God? Do you trust His sovereign will? Are you thankful in the midst of a trial? Even devastating trials do not have to rob us of our joy and our close relationship with God. Trials are never easy, but we must remember that God, in His sovereign will, has allowed them in our lives. In the midst of the trial it is sometimes hard to find joy, but it does come as the Psalmist can attest to. Psalm 30:5b states, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” May we trust God in the trials of life, and may we give thanks in all things.