When I was in college I took a class in sociology which wasn’t bad, but it was centered on teaching us that our society has shifted from a religious mindset. My professor was really bent on drilling it into my head that America was no longer a Christian nation. There were times he would go on long rants about what he saw as flaws in the Christian faith—what this had to do with sociology, I have no clue. It should be noted that my professor was also an atheist.
But anyway *shrugs shoulders*….
One of the rants that I actually gave an ear to was the time he went on shouting that Christians are never thankful when they face hard times. I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this story in the past but its worth writing about again.
What he said really got me thinking because, first of all, that isn’t true at all. Take a good look through the Book of Psalms and you will see David rejoicing to God in the wilderness. Giving thanks and praise even though he was living on the run, even though he’d been promised kingship. It wasn’t until he was older and had lived many years running from King Saul that David actually took the throne. In the meantime, he faced many struggles, battles, and worry. But we don’t see that because David was not a complainer.
You can also look at the Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament. He didn’t sit on a beach with a church choir humming Amazing Grace to him as the sun set on the horizon while he scribbled down the Book of Ephesians. No, most of Paul’s writings were scribbled in the darkness, huddled near the light peeping into his damp prison cell. The sound of metal scraping against stone could be heard as his chains moved slowly along the ground, sliding with the flick of his wrist as he wrote on a dirty scroll;
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
We are supposed to rejoice in our hardships because we know that in our time of testing, we are being cleansed of the bad things God doesn’t want in us. And when God is done molding us through this testing, we will come forth as pure gold: “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 NIV.
Some might say its easy for Paul (or anyone) to be encouraging to others. But look at what Paul did in Acts 14:19-20 NIV
“Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe.”
Even when Paul faced physical attacks, when he was quite literally left for dead, he found the grit and the faith in God to get up and go right back into the city where he’d been assaulted. Without a single complaint, without any grumbling or muttering, without any signs of fear. Paul got back up and got ready to continue spreading the Gospel. He considered his overall mission to be far more important than the negative events that happened along the way.
II Corinthians 4:17 NIV “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
My professor was so horribly wrong when he said that Christians are never thankful in tough times. King David and Paul are just two examples of people from the Bible who could have complained but instead gave thanks and praise. There’s also Job who lost his wealth, his health, and his family in one day but still thanked God. Joseph who was sold into slavery by his own brothers, accused of rape by his boss’s wife, and wrongfully imprisoned for years but somehow, he never turned his anger towards God.
If you’ve ever heard the story of Bethany Hamilton, she was a surfer who lost her arm due to a shark bite. She is a wonderful Christian girl who has said on many interviews that she is thankful to God for what happened to her. Although she is missing an arm, she praises God for her new life because now she’s a better surfer than she ever was before. Now she has the opportunity to show the world that God can make miracles through any person in any condition. When the world said her surfing career was over, God said not until I say its over.
Her words remind me of the scripture Romans 5:3 NIV “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;”
When I heard my professor saying such ridiculous things about Christians, I took them as a personal challenge. I decided I wouldn’t just be thankful in the hardships, I would be thankful for the simplest joys in my life.
I am thankful for the sunset, that I can see it every evening.
I am thankful for my two dogs; they are healthy and beautiful and always make me smile.
I am thankful for each one of my teeth that I can smile with.
I am thankful for my mother’s laughter, it is the sweetest sound.
I am thankful for the awesome Wi-Fi in my home. It’s really fast!
I am thankful that I was denied the promotion I thought I deserved at work—I know that if I had gotten it, I would have left behind The Rebel Christian.
I am thankful for my shabby haircut, even though I look like a little boy now, I think its kind of cute haha XD
I am thankful for the rude people like my professor. Because if he hadn’t been so misguided, I wouldn’t have stopped to give God the glory He deserves for all the simple joys I’ve been overlooking.
There is joy in every situation, every circumstance, every problem and every blessing you face. You just have to be willing to see it.