It’s that time of year when we give thanks for all of our blessings—both as individuals and as a nation. Our thankfulness usually focuses on our material blessings—our daily provision of food, our jobs and homes, our family and friends and our freedom as a nation. While we should thank God for all of these blessings, how many of us ever give thanks for the trials and difficulties of the past year?
Why should we do this? Author and speaker, John Bevere says in his book, Killing Kryptonite, “Adversity locates the strength of our faith.” In other words, life’s difficulties are a kind spiritual thermometer that reveals whether we are trusting in our own ability to get through our trials or whether we are really putting our faith in God.
In the book of James we read: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV). What James is saying is that we should be thankful for trials and difficulties because they work in us a spiritual endurance and maturity.
If we are honest, most of us could not say we approach trials with “pure joy,” but we can certainly take steps to move in the that direction.
- We can thank God for our trials simply out of obedience, even if we don’t feel like it in the moment.
- We can stop and remember God’s faithfulness to us in past difficulties when He has brought us through.
- When we are tempted to focus only on the circumstances, we can spend time reading stories of God’s deliverances throughout Scripture.
- We can write out God’s promises from Scripture that speak to our particular trial and read them over and over, even memorizing them and speaking them out loud.
- We can pray that God will fill our hears and minds with peace as we wait for Him to answer. (“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7 NIV).
This Thanksgiving be sure to thank God for allowing the trials and difficulties of the past year to increase your faith ad move you towards spiritual maturity.