When we think of thankfulness our mind jumps straight to blessings that are tangible, our children, spouses, family, heath, and well-being. We tend to be thankful for things that make us comfortable. God means for us to have each and every one of these blessings, but He is also in the business of growing us. He knows that only giving us comfortable gifts doesn’t grow us one bit, in fact we can become stagnant. Recently God has been pushing me to look deeper than the surface things I have to be thankful for. He is calling me to recognize and thank Him for the struggling that He provides in my life to grow my spiritual muscles; the heartache that He allows to help me remember that He is my comfort; and the sadness He lets me experience to deepen my joy in Him. He is giving me eyes to see deeper into His blessings. They aren’t things I would choose, but in His Grace, He will choose them for me. Like any good parent, He is willing to bear the weight of my reactions, which may not always be pleasant, because of His love for me.
These days I am trying to embrace struggle better, even just the everyday mundane struggle, because I know it has value. If it didn’t; He would never allow it. Struggle and conflict help me train in my armor. Training is long and often monotonous, just like my every day struggles. Repetition and resistance build strength. If I do push-ups every day for a month (don’t worry I am not about to ask you to try this at home), I would look and feel differently. The repetition and resistance would create results.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
You can’t argue with results. Endurance does produce character, and character does produce hope, and hope is something I desperately want and need for the everyday. So, if I want hope for the everyday mundane, I need to embrace the endurance that brings character that will get me to God’s love being poured into my heart through the Holy Spirit. Now those are some results that are worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
I can be thankful for my struggles because they are calling me deeper; God is showing me more of himself. He’s showing how He can be my strength, and the steadfastness of His love. They show me how He enables me with His presence, and they give me a glimpse of His heart for me. My struggles allow me to participate in a bigger story than my own and gain real ground for the Kingdom of God. When I embrace the struggle instead of fighting it, I find a bigger God than my eyes had yet seen.
When I am not thankful and rejoicing in my struggles, I’m not being Kingdom minded. I’m choosing to build my castles here, and this isn’t home. When I remember that my trials are making me fit for heaven and storing up my treasure there, I can celebrate them, and it gives them purpose. The end game is hope produced in me, not for this life but for eternity. I challenge you to purposefully thank God for a struggle you are facing today. It will remind you of God’s purpose and give you hope, a hope that doesn’t disappoint.