I read a story from the Daily Bread that really encouraged me to learn to be thankful. It was about the Scottish minister Alexander Whyte, who was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, “Certainly the preacher won’t think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this.” Much to his surprise, however, Rev. Alexander Whyte began by praying, “We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this.” (Daily Bread, August 26, 1989)Every person in this life has problems that come in his or her life. In any given week we face struggles and problems that affect our daily lives. Just the other day our garage door opener started malfunctioning (and thank you, but we have already determined worn down gears were the cause). So what? Do we need to get it fixed? Absolutely. But at least, we can be thankful that the garage door can be opened manually and the replacement parts are on their way.
Two weeks ago, our church shuttle van broke down and needed to go to the repair shop and get fixed. We had to cancel our shuttle route for one Sunday and wait for the repairs to be done. Did we want this to happen? Absolutely not. But thankfully we had the money in our church budget to take care of the repairs and get our shuttle back on the road and resume our transportation ministry.
Bad things happen to every one of us. In fact Jesus said these words in Matthew 4:5, “for He (God) causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (NSAB) In other words, we are going to have problems in this life. Jesus later said to us in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Notice Jesus didn’t say, “you might” or “you could,” but “in the world you will have tribulation.” This means that we are not immune from the world’s problems. Instead of complaining and becoming angry about problems, we should try to see the positive side of every situation and as 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” This is easier said than done for most of us, but it is still the command of God to us regarding situations in our lives. By being thankful and approaching problems with a thankful heart, we can let our light shine for Christ and impact those around us. The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 136:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever.” As human beings, are our problems real and important? Definitely. Is there anything wrong with asking God to remove the problems. Absolutely not; in fact, both Christ and the Apostle Paul did this. But the point is that while we are praying about and working on our problems, there are things for which to be thankful. Matt Skiles is pastor at Lebanon Rock Church.