“There’ll be times when you wonder how you can possibly thank (God) for something that turns your life upside-down…Let us, then, at times like these, give thanks on faith alone…obedient, trusting, hoping, believing.” So wrote the author Jan Karon.[i]
Prompt: Share an experience in your writing life when you found that to give thanks was especially difficult—but yet you did give thanks. How did you find your way to victory? What did God teach you through this experience?
Transforming Adverse Situations
A number of years ago while taking a course on memoir writing, I tried writing an article about my elementary school years. At first all I could remember was being bullied and ostracized. I was even misunderstood by my teacher.
Writing that article took a lot of time and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I felt as though all my writing energy was being sucked into a black hole—a soul hole. The article had no neat and tidy resolution of someone coming to my rescue or helping me through it. Even God didn’t seem to comfort me (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4), because at that young age, I hadn’t learned how to talk to Him in my troubles.
I set the article aside and turned my attention to other writing.
However, that unresolved story stayed in my mind, needling me like a pebble in my shoe. I wanted to understand why God had allowed my suffering. Perhaps like Job, I would never know. I just had to trust that He had a reason. Would that be enough for me?
I began journaling my questions, reflections and scriptures.
And all the while God reminded me, “In everything give thanks.”
Now thanking God in everything has been one of my life principles. God causes all things to work for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Thanking God clears the clutter of my mind and spirit from frustration, anxiety or disappointment. Then in quiet moments He can freely give me His word and. encouragement
Thanking God opens the door to a more creative attitude.
And thanking God turns my eyes from my viewpoint to what God has to say to me.
God reminded me that I had to work through layers of forgiveness—forgiving those who had hurt me and forgiving myself. As I forgave, God gradually healed me (and is still healing me) of the injuries from what I had missed out on friendships and in my education.
Some time later, I attended a women’s retreat. As the speaker shared her childhood story of abuse, she said, “God wouldn’t have given us those life experiences unless He wanted to use them for His glory.”
Yes! This was the insight I had been seeking. God wants to touch someone’s life through those experiences.
But God had a further answer for me. I awoke one night with an overwhelming sense of God’s presence. He was filling me with gratitude for those childhood traumas and transforming them into things of beauty.
I may never delve into the details of that story. But the details don’t matter now. What is more important is that as I surrender my issues to God and thank Him—even where I have been mistreated—He will accomplish His purposes both in my life and in ministry to others.
Now it’s time for your blog. To develop your thoughts, follow this link to a short sermon on the Apostle Paul’s secrets for giving thanks.