Imagine How Thankful We’d Be if We Could See Everything God is Doing

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Over the last few months, instead of just praying for the blessings I see and recognize as blessings, I’ve also been asking God to help open my eyes to the blessings that go completely unnoticed.

The problem with our thanksgiving is that it’s typically only a response to those events in life we understand as good news.

We struggle with giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18) because we lack the vision, plan, and perspectives of God.

Typically, what we do is draw a line of what we think we need or deserve.

If God’s provision for us surpasses that line, then we are thankful.  If his provision falls short, we worry, question, and blame.

Thus, the danger is that God’s performance as God relates to our ability to evaluate how successfully he’s being God based on one criteria – our selfish and limited vision of what God is doing.

It’s selfish to decide if God is worthy of praise based on my limited vision, experience, sight, and relationship with the world.  He’s worthy of praise and thanksgiving even when I can’t figure out what he’s doing.

I guess we can only learn to give thanks in all circumstances when we view everything from a  God-centered perspective.

One of my favorite stories that highlights this is told by Corrie Ten Boom.

While Corrie was in the Ravensbruck concentration camp with her sister, Betsie, they read 2 Thess. 5:16-18.  Here’s her account:

“That’s it, Corrie! That’s the answer. We can give thanks in all circumstances! That’s what we can do. We can start right now and thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”

I stared her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

“Such as?” I said.

“Such as being assigned here together.”

I bit my lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus.”

“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.” … “thank you for the very crowding here. Since were packed so close, that many more will hear!” [She prodded Corrie to think of some things to be thankful for …] Betsie went on serenely, for the fleas and for – The fleas! This was too much. Betsie, there is no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.

Eventually, Corrie does thank God for fleas and even later it turns out that none of the guards or supervisors would come into their bunk because of the amount of fleas.

The fleas were a blessing.  An invisible blessing.  They thanked God for something even before they could see how it was a blessing.

Several years later during a Billy Graham Crusades Interview, Corrie was asked, “What kept you going?”  She responded by saying, “Not what, but who. It was good that I have experienced that. I had always believed, but now I know from experience that Jesus’ light was stronger than the deepest darkness.”

God is worthy of thanksgiving even when we can’t understand what he’s doing.

God, teach us to be thankful for things we know and understand to be good news.  Teach us to be thankful for things that we perceive to be bad news – perhaps even things that are bad news for us.  But, Father, if they be good news for your Name and for your Kingdom, teach us to be thankful in all circumstances.

Comments

  1. says

    This is a great post Craig. I think in America we are so spoiled we are always looking for the next thing, when what we have right now, and all that God has done for us up until is moment is monumental! He is actively blessing us every day. Sustaining us, providing for us, and talking to the father on our behalf.

    • says

      Kent,
      You make an important observation about the tendency to constantly be looking for ‘the next thing’. At some point we must realize that our reaching for the next thing involves our dissatisfaction with what God has already given.
      Thanks.

  2. mark says

    The article is powerful and profound Craig. It really made me re-evaluate how i perceive and categorize God’s blessings.

    Just one question. When would i know if the painful experience is a disguised blessing(pruning) or God’s discipline/punishment?

    God Bless.

    • says

      Mark,
      We might never know when something is a blessing or discipline. I’m thinking about the story of Job. God never sits him down to explain what he’s doing, but the friends clearly interpret it as discipline.
      Sorry I couldn’t give a more concrete response.

      • Sun says

        I am hoping reading Job will provide some insight into being grateful in all circumstances. It is easy to be thankful when things are going well. We want the heart to be thankful in difficult circumstances as well.

        ~~~

        LAURA STORY LYRICS
        “Blessings”

        We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
        Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
        We pray for healing, for prosperity
        We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
        And all the while, You hear each spoken need
        Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

        ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
        What if Your healing comes through tears
        What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
        What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

        We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
        We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
        We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
        As if every promise from Your word is not enough
        And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
        And long that we’d have faith to believe

        ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
        What if Your healing comes through tears
        What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
        What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

        When friends betray us
        When darkness seems to win
        We know that pain reminds this heart
        That this is not,
        This is not our home
        It’s not our home

        ‘Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
        What if Your healing comes through tears
        What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near

        What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
        Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
        What if trials of this life
        The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
        Are your mercies in disguise

  3. says

    I am so thankful for the instances where the curtain of life gets lifted and I get to catch a glimpse of what God IS doing around me. Usually when I get that glimpse I think back on things that have happened to me and realize “wow, God you were working all along.” I believe God goes before us in all things, working in many ways that we cannot see. It makes me thankful, but I don’t always do a good job of remembering to be thankful. Corrie had a perspective that I am consistently challenged by, just an incredible pastor and leader for Christ.

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