In the 70s Lynette Hawkins Stephens, a member of the famed Hawkins Family Singers, sang:
“God has not promised me sunshine.
That’s not the way it’s going to be
But a little rain…mixed with God’s sunshine
A little pain…makes me appreciate the good times.
God desires to fill your longings.
Every pain that you feel, He feels them just like you.
But He can’t afford to let you feel only good.
Then you can’t appreciate the good times.
Grateful. Grateful. Be grateful.
Be grateful because there’s someone else that’s worse off than you.
Be grateful because there’s someone else that’d love to be in your shoes!
Be grateful. My God said He would never forsake you.
Be grateful. God said He would never, never forsake you.
Be grateful. (Repeat)
For it will be alright!”
But sometimes, we get it twisted!
Indeed the Scriptures are saturated with God’s promises – great and precious, but they are not all about sunshine and roses or blue skies and happiness; they are good promises and they are promises for our good – through all the circumstances of life. (Read 2 Peter 1:4 and Joshua 23:14, NIV)
Matthew 11: 28-29 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” and Isaiah 40:29-31 says, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” These passages tell me that we will experience burdens and we will grow weary. If we didn’t, we would have no need of rest. Weakness, weariness and exhaustion are ours but also promises of rest, power, strength and the ability to soar like eagles.
Undeniably, no one likes trials, troubles or tribulations. But we all have experienced them, are experiencing them or will experience them. It is just a matter of time. But because of the promises of God, Christians can look with different eyes at their challenges. James 1:2-4 tells us “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; [trials] Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” We can look with joy at our challenges knowing that they will result in our growth – increased faith, boundless patience, greater power, enduring strength… We can be grateful for these growth experiences and the love of God which will sustain us through each working them for good.
Gratitude is not easy. Bonnie McMaken says, “It is an intentional, courageous undertaking, challenging our assumptions of what God’s faithfulness looks like in good times and in bad. If we are only grateful during good times, our response hinges on God’s gifts to us, and our gratitude becomes conditional and weak…,” but “[b]ecause God is faithful, we can be receptive to [H]im even during difficulty. This doesn’t mean we like the situation or that we have to find some sort of good in it while we’re in that situation. Sometimes the only good thing we will meet is God himself, and [H]e will sustain us.” That alone, the assurance of meeting God and knowing that He will sustain us, seems to me enough to be grateful for.
Enjoy this version of Be Grateful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZF5ikxdTfM