27 11 2017


1 Thessalonians 5:18 is one of those Bible verses that you might wish wasn’t there. It calls us to do what we aren’t by nature geared to do. The Apostle Paul writes, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” I am all for celebrating those blessings that make me smile; but that which rips my heart out; not so much! At the very least, I am especially glad that the Scripture doesn’t command us to be grateful “for” all things because being appreciative of cancer, death, discouragement, anxiety and despair makes no sense to me whatsoever. I don’t believe that Jesus was grateful for the cross as much as our Lord was standing upon the truth that His Father was working all things to work together for good when all was said and done.  

Sadly, I tend to be a whiner and complainer. I’m not bragging about this trait because I wish it would not define me as it does. My word for 2017 was “Contentment” as I prayed that the Lord would continue to teach me how not to be so frustrated by my current circumstances. Things were aggravated by the fact that because of a really bad chest cold, I was kept home alone on Thanksgiving. I started to feel sorry for myself. When you want to splash around a pool of your own self pity, the enemy will provide you with plenty of ammunition.

I missed the Church Family Football Game! I look forward to playing in this contest all year long. I reached deep down inside for my inner Charlie Brown. Did you know that in all 17,897 comic strips, Charlie Brown never once got to successfully kick the football from Lucy? Asked whether Charlie Brown would finally get to kick the football in the last “Peanuts” comic strip, Schulz replied, “Oh, no! Definitely not! I couldn’t have Charlie Brown kick that football; that would be a terrible disservice to him after nearly half a century.” The cartoonist later became remorseful and in 1999, recalling the final time he signed the comic strip, “All of a sudden I thought, ‘You know, that poor, poor kid, he never even got to kick the football. What a dirty trick — he never had a chance to kick the football!’”

There are days that I look up to Heaven and shout, “Lord, please let today be the day you let me kick the football!” Some days, I feel like God is Charles Schulz and even though He knows how much I want to connect with that football, He always pulls it away and allows me to land smack dab on my back. I am not saying that these feelings are accurate because the Voice of Truth tells me a different story; but I do wrestle with the devils darts that shout to me things like, “God is always playing a joke on me and He seems to be enjoying it.” This frustrates me to no end.

I have learned the hard way that if we are ever going to be able to be “Thankful” in each situation, we need to make sure we keep looking up before we start mouthing off. If we don’t, our worship will quickly be reduced to glorified whining and our contents of praise sabotaged to morph into nothing more than lots of complaints about our position. Do any of these statements sound familiar? “I don’t like where I am God.” “I can’t believe that You would just leave me here!” Lord, how can You say you love me when You just up and left me to fend for myself all alone?”

When our wounds are the rawest, we need to turn down the volume of earth’s noise so that we may position ourselves to hear Heaven’s voice. The language of lies can only be trumped by “Truth Talk.” And yet it’s so easy for any one of us to be led astray. As a follower of Jesus, there is power in your story when you choose to live it even though you don’t like it. By going the distance, you will have been given the divine assistance that only shows up when your “watch” is set to God’s daylight savings time! We need so much more than just “bumper sticker” clichés to get us by. It is time to ask the Lord for a “Bumper Car” mentality! But just make sure your “crash helmet” is on!

When you lose your health it’s hard not to lose your hope. Getting older presents its own challenges when you can’t do the things you once could. But no matter what our circumstances may be, the truth remains the same and that is, “God is in it this very minute!” You may not like where you are or what you are or when you are but it doesn’t negate the promise of our Lord’s presence path of Jesus. When we look for the Lord rather than just use the Lord for what we want; we experience His presence in the middle of our pain even when we don’t like the purpose. His company means more to us than the mere change in our circumstances.

In her book “The Hiding Place,” Corrie Ten Boom tells of a time she discovered that God was working even in the most horrific circumstances. Corrie and her sister Betsie had been imprisoned by the Nazis for hiding Jews behind the wall of their Holland home. They both, along with their Father, ended up together in Concentration Camp. Yet, in the midst of the suffering, the women prisoners around Corrie and Betsie found comfort in the little Bible studies they held in the barracks. Corrie writes they gathered around the Bible “like waifs clustered around a blazing fire.” The blacker the night around us grew, the brighter and truer and more beautiful burned the Word of God.

When they were moved to Barracks 28, Corrie was horrified by the fact that their reeking, straw-bed platforms swarmed with fleas. How could they live in such a place? It was Betsie who discovered God’s answer: ‘”Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” Corrie stared at Betsie and then all around the dark, foul-aired room. Corrie thanked God for the fact they were together. Corrie thanked God that they had a Bible. Corrrie even thanked God for the horrible crowds of prisoners, that more people would be able to hear God’s Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas. “The fleas! This was too much. Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.” “Give thanks in all circumstances,” Betsie reminded Corrie. “It doesn’t say, ‘only in pleasant circumstances.’  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.” And so Corrie proceeded to give thanks for fleas even though this time she was sure Betsie was wrong.”                                                               

It turned out that Betsie was not wrong; the fleas were a nuisance, but a blessing after all. The women were able to have Bible studies in the barracks with a great deal of freedom, never bothered by supervisors coming in and harassing them. They finally discovered that it was the fleas that kept those supervisors out. Through those fleas, God protected the women from abuse and harassment. Through those fleas, God protected the women from much worse things and made sure they had their deepest, truest needs met.

We all have “fleas” in our lives. We all have those things that we can see no use for, things that are obviously horrible, unpleasant, painful things that we want gone. No life is free of “fleas”, but if Corrie and Betsie can be our examples, God can use even these nasty insects for our protection and blessing. As we celebrate the Season of Advent, lets thank God for His constant care and provision, and for His hidden blessings that come in ways we can easily overlook when we don’t see Him! He is in it this very minute. He is Emmanuel. Jesus is the eternal reality of “God with us!”  



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