Life always has its ups and downs. Sometime the ups are really, really high, and sometimes the downs are really, really low. If Thanksgiving happens to come during a really, really low time of your life, being thankful can take a little thought. Maybe you just lost a job, or a relationship just ended, or you have a serious illness, or someone very close to you moved far away, or you lost someone very dear to you, or some combination of these.
When we have our own serious problems, the problems of the world spiraling out of control as we grow nearer to Christ’s return may be magnified. The negatives can seem to outweigh all the positives. But the apostle Paul expressed a mindset that those of us who are Christians—that is, those of us who have repented and believed in Christ as our Savior—should copy as we face our own problems and the problems in the world around us. Though Paul had faced tremendous difficulties as he travelled around spreading the Gospel, in II Corinthians 4:16-18 he wrote these words: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen in eternal.” I don’t think Paul was trying to minimize his problems by calling them “light and momentary.” Earlier in the chapter, in verse 8, he said, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed . . .” Our problems are “momentary” when compared to eternity. They are just a little blip on the screen of eternity.
WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO?
At the beginning of the fourth chapter of the book recording the apostle John’s vision, Revelation, we are told that John was invited up into heaven. At the beginning of the fifth chapter, John saw God the Father seated on His throne. God was holding in His right hand the scroll revealing what would happen before Christ’s return. John wept because there was no one who was worthy to open the scroll. Then an elder told him that Christ Himself—“the Lion of the tribe of Judah”—was worthy and would open the scroll.
When life is tough, we who are Christians can be so thankful for the good news, found later in Revelation, that there is a whole new creation coming after Jesus returns. In Revelation 21:1, toward the end of the apostle John’s record of his vision, he wrote, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth . . .” In verses 3 & 4 he said, “God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
BUT WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
Besides the blessings we can foresee in the future, though, we who are Christians also have the blessing of knowing that today, right now, we are loved by God—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. When you’re going through hard times, what is better than knowing you are loved? I John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God!” Not everyone in the world can claim the title “God’s child.” Only those who have accepted God’s offer of salvation through Christ can claim that title. John 1:12 makes it clear. It says, “Yet to all who did receive him [Christ], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.”
In Ephesians 3:17b-19 Paul expressed his desire for those in Ephesus to really understand the measure of Christ’s love. He wrote, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know the love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Jesus Himself said in John 15:13 that “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” That is exactly what He did. He laid down His life for us, and it was in a way that involved intense suffering. We should have no doubt of His deep love for us.
The Holy Spirit shows His love for us by what He does in us. John 14:26 tells us that the Holy Spirit teaches us and helps us remember what Jesus said. The Christianity.com website notes that the title assigned to the Holy Spirit in this verse is the word parakletos in Greek. Its meaning is related to legal counsel. In the English Standard Version it is translated “Helper,” in the New International Version “Advocate,” and in the King James Version “Counselor.” In John 16:13 Jesus promised that the Spirit will guide us into truth. He can make God’s Word come alive to us. Galatians 5:22-23 lists the wonderful traits that the Holy Spirit can enable us to have—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Ephesians 4:30 tells us it is possible to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” How can we cause Him grief? By following the inclinations of our natural sinful nature instead of seeking His guidance. You can only cause grief to someone who loves you deeply. The fact that we can grieve the Holy Spirit is evidence of His great love for us.
A SONG FOR THANKFULNESS
Below is a video of a great song written by Andrew Peterson and Ben Shive, entitled “Is He Worthy?” In the video, it is sung by Chris Tomlin. This song embodies the hope I have spoken of in this article. It can help you have a heart full of thankfulness this Thanksgiving, even if you’re going through hard times.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United State Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.TM
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