The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 1 Cor. 11:23
Amazing! Jesus, knowing that He was betrayed, knowing that the bread represented His broken body, knowing what He was to suffer, gave thanks. So agonizing that He would later pray that His "cup" be taken from Him (Mt. 26:39), He still gave thanks to the Father.
And He set an example for us to follow (John 13:15).
Oh, but He was Jesus, God incarnate. We're not. Surely, we can't do what He can do... Can we?
Can we give thanks in the midst of suffering? Can we give thanks when there seems to be no hope?
James tells us to consider it joy whenever we face trials, not because of the trial itself, but because of what the trial produces: perseverance, maturity, completeness. (James 1:2-4) The New Living Translation puts it this way: Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
We are not asked to give thanks FOR the trial, but for the opportunity it presents to us. We are asked to give thanks in spite of the trial, to look past it and see that God is working in it and through it for our benefit.
Yesterday, Sonya shared that thanksgiving is a decision. It's a choice that the Pilgrims made, and a choice that we must make. I was taught in school that the Pilgrims were thankful to the Indians. That's false. The truth is that the Pilgrims were thankful to God. Not because of their hardships, but in spite of them. It is unlikely that any of us will ever face the hardships the Pilgrims faced. We have different ones in our generation, to be sure, but the fact that they were thankful to God despite their hardships provides hope that we can be too.
And He empowers us to do what He asks us to do.
You, however, are controlled ... by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. ... The Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:9, 26)
And not only does He give us His power, He provides benefits and blessings besides!
My friend, Sharon at momandlovingit.org, shared a recent disappointment with me. During our discussion, she made a statement I will long remember:
"A grateful heart is rarely discontent."
Lord, help us to be grateful, to see the purpose in difficulties and disappointments, to allow You to work to bring us to maturity.