Prayer and Reflections

Being Thankful in Trying Times

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
- Isaiah 43:2-3

In reflecting on these verses, I am mindful of the word “when” and not “if.” Trials are an inevitable part of life. Jesus warned His followers, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) It is through life’s trials that our faith in God is strengthened or we turn away in fear and dismay. 

For many of us in our senior years, this passage reminds us of God’s past faithfulness. We perhaps have seen God’s provision of mercy, grace, strength, and peace in the care of and/or loss of loved ones; separation by death or divorce; financial difficulties; illnesses; rejection, betrayal, injustice, or criticism by others; our own failures… The list goes on. Through reflection, we see a keener reality of His presence in our lives.

Someone wisely observed, “We are either approaching a trial, in the midst of one, or have just been through one.” (Thankfully, God allows seasons of rest between them.) If you are currently not experiencing a trying time, be thankful, but stay prepared. Our hope lies not in being able to avoid times of difficulty, but in His promise to never leave or forsake His own. (Heb. 13:5) We learn His grace is sufficient by moving through life’s trials, not by avoiding them. 

The key to making the most of any trial lies in drawing near to God when tempted to withdraw in despair. It involves being honest in prayer while expressing faith in His power to equip us to emerge stronger and with a deeper knowledge of Him and intimacy with Him. One of my favorite quotes reads, “Sometimes God calms the storm, Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms the child.” God does not promise to always deliver us from life’s storms, but He does promise to see us through them. 

During this season of thanksgiving, we are often reminded of the need to be thankful for God’s physical provisions (food, shelter, health, etc.), but of greater value is that of being thankful for His presence, unconditional love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness in all of life’s circumstances. Take time this Thanksgiving to reflect and list the major trials you have been through in your life. Make a note of how God has delivered or brought you through each one, then praise and worship Him for His faithfulness and love. Gratitude will transform your attitude. 

For those who do not know God intimately, I pray you will seek access to Him by confessing your sins and trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He then becomes the Mediator between you and God, having taken on all your sins on the Cross. He alone enables you to approach the Father without guilt or shame. In doing so, you will never have to face a trial alone and will know the peace and confidence of the psalmist who wrote, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1) Determine within your mind and heart to trust God’s love, stay focused on Him daily, and prepare for whatever crisis lies ahead!

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7

I thank You, Lord, for Your peace,
In the midst of trials that tempt despair,
For the calmness of the Holy Spirit,
And assurance of Your presence there. 

Thank You for security in knowing
Though it appears that evil will win,
The battle was won on Calvary’s hill
Over the penalty of death for my sin.

Thank You, Lord, for power to detach
In the midst of the stress of the day,
By trusting in Your supernatural power
To guide and keep me in Your way.

From Reflections of Gratitude and Praise: Giving Thanks, ©2017 Doris Haver Rouse

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