I’m looking at this headline I just typed and am wondering where to go from there. The statement pretty much says it all. Even when you are at your worst, there are reasons to be grateful to God. I’m in a spot like that right now and I’m doing my best to remain grateful for the blessings God gave me. It’s not easy. There are probably few things more difficult. I have to do it, though. The alternative is to give in to despair. I’ve been down that road and it literally almost destroyed me. I’m not doing it again.
Here’s the situation. I quit my much-hated job in March, thinking I was about to start a new career elsewhere. That job fell through. I’ve been unemployed for four months and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon. Things are getting tight and although my wife, Angela, has been great about the whole thing, we’re both feeling the strain.
So as you can see, I’m in a bit of a spot. I’m not telling you all this so that you’ll feel sorry for me. I’m not asking for charity. I’m not even going to plug my new book. Instead I’m going to tell you why I’m still grateful to God. Let the ‘sermon’ commence.
I’m still blessed. My wife is by my side. I have two great kids. We still have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, food on the table, and so forth. We have family and friends. Most importantly, I believe we still have God on our side.
Why do I say that? How can a benevolent God allow me to go through this? Why should I be grateful to God when I have so much trouble? Simple. Things could be much worse. Besides, God never promised me a trouble-free life.
In John 16:33, Jesus said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Notice what I underlined and italicized. Not might have, not could have, but will have. Jesus didn’t dodge the issue or offer false platitudes that everything in this life would be wonderful. He told us the truth. We are going to have trouble. This world is full of it.
I have plenty of trouble right now. No question about that. And I have no guarantee that things won’t get worse. What I have to remind myself (and this is the hard part, friends) is that while God may not necessarily bail me out of my problems in this world, He will get me through them.
That’s where the peace part comes in. If all this had happened as recently as a year ago I may well have gone off the deep end. In that year I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to endure adversity. It’s still tough, but I’m at peace, thanks to my Lord.
How else could someone who foolishly quit his job not be pulling out what’s left of his hair? How else could someone who has no prospects for earning a living not go nuts? Yes, I’m a stronger person than I was a year ago but where did that strength come from? There’s only one explanation that makes any sense. God strengthened me through a personal trial. Without out that, I wouldn’t be able to handle what I’m going through now.
Now don’t get me wrong. My inner peace isn’t perfect. Just this morning I was feeling the despair. I’m really good at wallowing in self-pity and for a while I did. Angela keeps telling me to give it to God. I’m not always good at that but I remembered those words and prayed. I laid it all out. What I was feeling and why, acknowledge that I shouldn’t be feeling that way but that I couldn’t seem to help it.
Praying that prayer gave me a dose of perspective. It reminded me that there are still things to be grateful for, and I am. The most important things to me in this life are my wife and kids. They have not been taken away. Even if they were, I would still have reason to be thankful to God. That reason? The assurance that my troubles will end when Jesus returns for the faithful. He said that we will have trouble in this world but also promised that the next would be free of it.
So one way or another, I’m going to be okay. I just have to keep reminding myself that God’s got my back. He can do that for you too. All you have to do is ask.