This past Sunday I had the opportunity to teach on “being thankful when things are bad” (actually, the title was “exulting in our tribulations). As I said before, the lesson came from Romans 5.1-5 and emphasized verse 3.
Well, since I am fairly new to this “preaching” thing, I do well on content, but tend to struggle on delivery. No excuse, just the reality. What I am most excited about is that there will be plenty of more opportunties to learn and grow and really teach people and not lessons (I sometimes tend to do the first as if I was a professor).
Isn’t it difficult to be thankful when things are bad? I wonder if I am the only one that finds it hard to express joy and gratitude when things are not necessarily going the way that I intended them to? For example, just the other night
I happened to pick a fight with my wife for no apparent reason. We were talking about a very small issue, but what I unfortunately did was make it much larger than what it needed to be by picking and making overtly large comments, like, “You always are…blah, blah, and blah.” So, what looked like the making of a pleasant evening, we had a small “argument,” which brought in some rain clouds on our sunny day.
So, how am I to be thankful in this type of situation? What if something was going on a that was more serious, like a long-term illness, family problems, out of balance checking account, or a natural and unexplained disaster, from a flood to a car wreck? How in the world are we to be thankful in the midst of such problems?
I’m glad that God doesn’t leave us hanging without a clue. Since He desires for us to “exult” (which is to confidently boast or triumphantly rejoice) in our “tribulations,” which can also be understood as sufferings, He enables us to do so.
We see this answer provided for us in Romans 5.2, we are “standing in grace.” What does this mean? This means that as we acknowledge our inabilities to make things right, our lack of desire to go another day, our lack of desire to apologize and ask for forgiveness from another (such as myself), we are to exult, confidently boast, and rejoice in our weaknesses (for the perfect example of this read 2 Corinthians 12.9-10).
When we boast in such a way about ourselves and look to God and boast in who He is, then He will give us grace, which is sufficient to provide us with more than enough strength to boast in our sufferings and empower to live and figth for another day. So, this means that the power to do this does not lie in ourselves, but rather in God who gives grace to the humble.
You see, God is a God of hope (Romans 15.13). He is not a God of despair and doubt. And since God is such a God, He will fill us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we will about in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15.13). Did you see the key? Our ability to have joy and peace does not lie in ourselves, but rather in God who begins it within us and enables us to continue to live in it.