Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thankful in Difficult Times

I've posted on the subject of "ugly-beautiful" gifts...or being thankful in difficult times, many times here on my blog over the years.

The truth is, I seem to always be struggling with this kind of gratitude. I know in my heart that the Lord never wastes any experiences I go through, whether easy or difficult. But my mind keeps arguing with that understanding and I often end up pleading with God, "Lord, how is this going to turn out for the good?" I start to lose patience and my faith, that is being tested, fails. 

I'm so thankful, that God understands my weaknesses and when I falter, He only loves and forgives.  Whenever I feel vulnerable or angry, time and time again, He comes to me in the Bible and bring me back to gospel-sanity. How I praise Him for the counsel and consolation of His Word; the grace and power of the Scriptures; the truth and authority of the Bible.

Paul writes in Colossians 1:11, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” So even when we face the storms in our lives, God will always strengthen us and give us the endurance and patience with joy that we need. What a blessing that is!

It does seem like we grow the most in our walk with Him when times are difficult, though. When times are good, we rarely grow; isn’t that sad but true? When the marriage is good, the family is good, work is going smoothly, the car is not breaking down, and we still don’t have to paint that side of the house yet, when things are going good, how many of us grow in our faith and trust in Jesus Christ? Not many. Yet, when times of stress and hurt and difficult challenges come is when we tend to grow more and become more like Jesus Christ; that’s His purpose in our lives, that we look like Him. 

In the midst of these difficult circumstances, God wants us to be not only confident but He wants our faith to be refined—to be pure. In I Peter 1:6-7, Peter describes all the wonderful things that happen to a Christian: 

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

That is part of what is going on when difficult times come into our lives; we are being purified, refined, and tested so that we can know for sure and praise God in how we respond; we know that our faith is genuine and real.

Continuing to list the many gifts, including the "ugly-beautiful" gifts the Lord provides:
#1767 - ugly: out of control arguments... beautiful: turning to the Lord(then the other person) to seek forgiveness. Then reading His promises in the Bible that there will be reward for my faithfulness.
#1768 - ugly: stepping out of my comfort zone and getting involved in a ladies Bible study group at church.  beautiful: meeting with all the wonderful sisters in Christ, who uplift my heart and soul and freely give encouragement.
#1769 - ugly: rainy, dreary weather... beautiful: More time to spend communing with the Lord and in the Word.
#1770 - ugly: listening to mom talk about how she feels so trapped/between a rock and a hard place. beautiful: An opportunity to bring comfort to her and let her know I love her, no matter what she does/doesn't do.  
#1771 - ugly: giving my boss at work a final date. beautiful: knowing that soon I will be able to see mom just about every day.
Sometimes it seems like the beautiful comes first:
#1772 - beautiful: making the connection with my sister-friend in the Lord, who is seeking the same thing my mom was seeking. ugly: finding that my siblings refuse to discuss and check out the possibility...causing friction at every turn.(but offering no other possible options)

"'give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

… without ceasing, O Lord my God, I will give You thanks for ever….~Ps. 30:13

Care to count the good, the bad, and the ugly-beautiful as all grace? Consider joining the Gratitude Community! Just jump in with your own counting!

How to begin your own 1000 Gift List ::: How Gratitude Can Change your Life

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  1. I have been journaling my gratitude list since 2009, but still struggle with the ugly beautiful thanksgiving!

    1. Wow! Congrats on 6 or more years of blogging, Elizabeth! I agree that the ugly beautiful is the most difficult to write down. But, it also allows us to see God's ultimate good, through it all!! Have a blessed day.

  2. I love that phrase, "Gospel sanity"! I'm going to have to use that one!! Thanks for this, Ann. It can often be difficult to see the beauty in the ugly...but we trust God, we will remember that He does always work for the good... I also love the awesome exercise you did by listing the "ugly" but then writing the "beauty" of each situation! Awesome!

    "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8

    Love, Joan

    1. Yes, beauty can be found, when the Lord is the One whom we look to and trust alone! Great verse, too!! Thanks for stopping by and ya!!


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