Weather Report From Heaven: Sunny and bright, with an abundance of light and lots of singing and rejoicing.

Bible Verse of the Day: ” Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” – Romans 8:17

Let’s face, life is often filled with painful experiences. Whether it is a sudden loss of a loved one, a job, a house or other earthly possessions, a painful divorce, or a bad diagnosis from the Doctor. At these moments, thanking God or being thankful in general can be the furthest thing from our minds. But although pain in this broken world is inevitable, misery is optional. We don’t have to choose to be miserable despite our pain. When bad things happen to us, we naturally often fall into a place of despair and separation from God can easily take place. We may even feel like blaming God when things are going against us in our lives. But we must remember that there is always a purpose in our various trials, and ultimately they are opportunities to draw closer to God, rather than running away from Him. In the book “In A Pit With A Lion on A Snowy Day”, the Author, Mark Batterson, reminds us that when we face trials, how we respond is critical to how much we grow through our trials. He says it is imperative that when facing adversity, that we stop focusing on what is wrong with us, and instead we focus on what is right with God.

God is good always and wants what is best for us. Sometimes we have a hard time letting go of our independence and trusting in our dependence upon him, especially in tough times or difficult trials in our life. But our ability to be filled with gratitude even during our suffering is the gateway to our greater dependence upon Him in all areas of our life and can ultimately lead to living a less stressful life as we gain the deeper knowledge of who is really in control. Ever since Eve reached for the fruit in the Garden, we have been reaching for our independence from God. Sometimes God uses trials and hardships to shake us enough that we realize that our ways are not the best ways. Only through letting go and letting God transform us during our trials can we begin to reach the enlightenment that we seek. When we recognize His ability to transform our suffering into something beautiful on the other side is when we can begin to praise Him no matter what, even during those painful periods. Clergyman Henry Ward Beecher said “A humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow.” Being humbled can be a very good thing if we allow our low position to make us aware of God’s high position and the gap that exists between our thoughts and ways and His, as Isaiah tells us in 55:8-9. When we focus on the length God went to to save us from the depths of our sin, and realize how much His only begotten Son suffered so that we could have eternal life, then our momentary, light affliction ( 2 Cor 4:17 ) can be truly transformational, and we can learn to give thanks far more easily. The Irish writer G.K. Chesterton said in his book ” Irish Impressions”, that the “critical thing in life is whether you take things for granted or with gratitude.”  I believe one of the lessons God has been teaching me over the last few years was to be more grateful for the blessings in my life, and not to take things for granted. It has opened my eyes to my need to have more compassion for others who are struggling and to be more dependent on God. If I become more grateful, I will naturally become more loving and compassionate, and in the process I will become more like Jesus wants me to be.

Giving thanks in hard times can be tough, but going through tough times without God is impossible. We need to trust in His plan to turn our suffering into enlightenment. If in God’s love the big purpose of all of our various trials is to draw us closer to Him, than they are not really trials at all, but rather enlightening experiences to the truth about how much we are dependent upon Him and how great His love for us was expressed through sufferings of Christ Jesus. At that point, we may be amazed at how easy giving thanks becomes, even in the midst of our suffering.

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