THANKSGIVING AND JOY IN THE MIDST OF PAIN AND ADVERSITY

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Pastor Austen Ukachi Ministering at HE’S ALIVE CHAPEL (Beracah Centre -Ajah), Thanksgiving Service. 28/11/2016

“I will mention the loving kindnesses of the LORD and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD  has bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he has bestowed on them according to his mercies, according to the multitude of his loving kindnesses” (Isaiah 63:7).

 

This year’s thanksgiving is taking place in the midst of a national recession. Some obviously entertain doubts and questions in their minds as to why they should be thankful to God in their pain and adversity. They may be questioning God’s faithfulness in their sufferings. I want to remind us that gratitude and praise make more sense to God when it is given in our suffering. No doubt, some of us have suffered great loss; some have lost their jobs and businesses; some others have not earned income for months. Some of us may be victims of this recession, creditors owe us, we have debts to pay, tenants owe us, and we have to pay our suppliers. This is the realistic situation. Despite all these, we must be grateful; we still owe God praise and thanksgiving. 

NOT ALONE

If any one of us has doubt why he or she should be thankful to God in the midst of distress such a one is not alone. Once, David has cause to question God’s lovingkindness towards him when he was going through trials. He said, “Lord, where are your former loving kindnesses which you swore to David in your truth? Remember, Lord, the reproach of your servants – how I bear in my bosom the reproach of all the many people’s…” (Psalm 89:49-51). David was obviously, doubtful of God’s blessings on him.

Can you imagine how David would have felt when he lost his entire family and possessions at Ziklag? He would have felt abandoned by God. In addition, his lieutenants who also lost their fortunes alongside with him turned around to blame him for the lose, and even wanted to stone him. While David was in this dilemma, we read, “But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.”

YET, I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD…

Habakkuk chose to thank God in the midst of the fruitlessness and emptiness which he experienced. In the midst of the lack of any visible or tangible results, he, by choice, testified, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, he will make my feet like deer’s feet, and he will make me walk on my high hills” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Imagine the feelings of Jeremiah when he wrote the words we find in Lamentations 3:19 -21. But, despite the sufferings and pain, he kept hope alive. “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not, they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

THANKSGIVING PROVOKES MIRACLES

I believe that our praise and gratitude make more sense to God, and commands more power, when it is done in our suffering. We are reminded that Paul and Silas sang their best hymns in prison, and their songs provoked an unusual earthquake. There is something powerful about being thankful in adversity. It provokes unusual miracles.

GOD CAN TURN OUR NIGHT INTO DAY

While our disappointments and feelings may be real, we must not dwell on them for too long. We must cease weeping and encourage ourselves in the Lord. One way to do this is through thanksgiving. While we lament about our situation, we must not forget some basic facts. God is faithful, and an expert in reversing situations. God is able to turn a bad situation into good. In the midst of Israel’s political and economic recession, God spoke to her these encouraging words which we can relate with in our situation. In Jeremiah 33:1-11, God spoke variously to Israel. In verse 3, God promised to reveal to Israel secrets she had not known if she would call on him. In verse 6, he promised to heal Israel of her problems. In verse 9, he promised to restore Israel’s prosperity. The climax of these promises of restoration is found in verses 10 and 11,

“This is what the LORD says: you have said, ‘This is a desolate land where people and animals have all disappeared.’ Yet in the empty streets of Jerusalem and Judah’s other town, there will be heard once more the sounds of joy and laughter. The joyful voices of bridegrooms and brides will be heard again, along with the joyous songs of people bringing THANKSGIVING offerings to the LORD. They will sing, ‘Give thanks to the LORD of heaven’s armies, for the LORD is good. His faithful love endures forever!’ For I will restore the prosperity of this land to what it was in the past, says the LORD. (NLT edition).

REMEMBER

Whilst our disappointments may be real, we must not forget the goodness and mercies of the Lord towards us. Reflecting on our past and present brings to memory God’s unfailing love to us. We only need to sit back and reflect, we shall see the many things God has done for us. A songwriter once wrote: ‘Count your blessings name them one by one’. We need to sit down and count our blessings. In addition, you need to think about the love God has demonstrated towards you in the following ways:

The care and his gift of life which he has given to you (Job 10:12).

Think about your sins which he has forgiven (Psalm 32:1-2).

Think about his protection and deliverances (Psalm 116:8-9).

Think about his provision and support to you (Psalm 104:27-28).

Think of your past to the present (Psalm 71:5-8).

And what about his unfailing love to you? (Psalm 36:7-20).

As you reflect on all these, I am sure you will see the reasons why you must be thankful to God. Our key verse in Isaiah 63:7 starts with, “I will mention the loving kindnesses of God and the praises of the LORD…” Our gratitude to God deserves public mention and celebration.

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