“. . .in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NASB)
“. . .give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)
“No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you. . .” (The Injil, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, TLB)
In everyone’s life there are times of pain.
Sometimes. . .this pain can be unbearable. A nightmare. Beyond what one could have imagined. Nothing could have prepared you for it.
Our responses vary but the question in this blog post is:
“What kind of response would please God in times of great pain?”
There is a story in the Injil about two men who suffered greatly for God, for Isa (the Book of Acts, chapter 16). Their names are Paul and Silas and they were incredibly devoted followers of Isa – Jesus. It was their greatest longing and purpose in life to travel far and wide to tell people about him. Not everyone was happy about their message of repentance. Here is the story of one such occasion. Think about the pain Paul and Silas were in and their response:
The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved — you and your household.”
What a story! Paul and Silas had to have been in great, great physical and emotional pain in that terrible dungeon (probably damp, dark, filthy, rat-infested) but what did they do?
Complain to each other and the other prisoners?
Curse the guard and swear that they were innocent?
Lash out at God for letting this horrible beating happen?
No, they prayed and they praised.
They actually thanked God in their pain.
You see, they believed several essential truths:
* God is never asleep or distracted or too busy to know what is going on in our lives
* He is aware of our suffering and He cares about it – He cares deeply
* God is not only aware but He rules – He is both loving and in control
* In painful times, there is purpose and meaning in our suffering
* Thanking and praising God in painful times tells Him that we love and trust Him.
Are you in pain right now? Physically, emotionally, spiritually?
Do you feel abandoned by God? You can’t hear Him or see Him or find Him?
Do you feel confused? Afraid?
Alhamdulillah. Praise God. Thank God.
When you have this reaction, it doesn’t mean that you enjoy suffering or that you have a fatalistic approach to life.
It means that you trust God. It means that you have ultimate faith in His power, wisdom, and love.
When you have this reaction in the painful storms of life, I believe that his heart is supremely blessed.
He knows He has someone who truly loves and trusts Him.
So I say today. . .by faith. . .
Alhamdulillah. Praise You, God. Thank You, God.
Will you join me?
Postscript: dear Muslim friends, while it is vitally important for us as Muslims and Christians to talk about the significant differences we have (such as how to get to Paradise – a huge issue!), it is also important for us to talk about what we have in common.
Thanking and praising God is something we can enthusiastically agree upon and use to build bridges between us for further discussion about who God is, why Jesus came to the earth and. . .how we can get to the place we all want to go – Paradise!
So. . .let’s talk!