One of the most challenging things for me to do in the midst of a messy, this-does-not-make-sense circumstance, is to lay my burdens and cares at the feet of Jesus and trust Him. Can you relate?
When I was 7 years old my Mom passed away after a tough battle with cancer. To this day I remember the scene and the emotions that hung in the air when my family found out she had passed away. Shortly after our return home from the hospice where she was staying, I went straight to my room and began to cry. And in the midst of the confusion I was feeling and with tears rolling down my face, I cried out to God “God why did you take MY mom?” I struggled with that question many years following her death. I didn’t understand how a loving God could leave me in such pain and heartache. “If this is who God is, I don’t know if I can trust Him,” were my thoughts at the time.
Fast forward to college when I began to see God differently. There were many events that led up to this point. People, books, scripture, and songs are just some of the avenues God used to speak truth into my life and to show me His love. One of the biggest revelations God showed me during this time is that He uses the pain and hurt in life to shape us into who he is making us to be, and to a place of surrendering to Him. As God began to reveal himself to me as the greatest treasure, I began to understand how valuable this place of surrender is.
In Colossians 4:2, Paul was telling the Colossians to “continue steadfastly in prayer” and to “be watchful in it with thanksgiving”. He wrote this WHILE he was in prison. In the midst of persecution and hardship, he was still encouraging others to pray, to turn to God, and to give thanks to God.
I love what Chris said in Sunday’s sermon after he asked us the question, “What do we do with all the negatives, in the storms and in the struggles and the triumphs and tribulations. What do we do?” He followed it up by saying that we should boast- “You boast. You boast in the weakness, you thank God for the struggle. You thank God for the thorn. You thank Him that right now, you don’t know where to turn. Because what it does is it gives him the opportunity, he goes ‘thank you, now you’re out of the way, now I can work’. Remember God’s first concern is what? His own glory.” When we see God as our greatest treasure, as the loving Father He says He is, as someone worthy of our worship, as someone who deserves all the glory and see the depth of our human depravity and brokenness- we are able to thank Him no matter what our circumstances are.
Oh, how difficult it is for us as humans to give thanks while we are hurting. To give thanks in the midst of circumstances that we do not understand. While I was not at a place of thanking God for the loss of my Mom when I was 7, I can look back and thank God now for how God used her to impact my life, for the Mom that God provided after my biological Mom’s death, and for how God used this pain in my life to lead me to a place of surrender and a place of following Jesus. I still miss my biological Mom, and giving thanks is not something I’ve perfected. I still fall short of giving thanks even in the mundane seasons of life. But the message on Sunday challenged me to evaluate my heart and to ask myself some questions. I encourage you to ask yourself these questions too.
• When I look back on the struggles and hardships in my life what emotions do I feel?
• Have I thanked God for the struggles in my life, for the hardships and pain? If I haven’t, what’s keeping me from doing that?
• Do I just thank God for what He gives or does, or do I thank him for who He is?
• At this moment do I believe that God is working for my good? Do I believe that whichever season God has me in right now is his best for me?
Joy Krolak was serving in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the last two years, working with college students. She’s currently back in the states connecting people to God’s mission for the world, and preparing to go back to Bosnia and Herzegovina long-term. She loves being in nature, reading, playing board games and cards, and having deep conversations with people.