This time last year I was very ill and had Home Health Nurses coming to my house daily as we got ready for Randy to leave on deployment. I was so frustrated and could not reconcile how this illness was "....a light and momentary affliction," and I certainly could not see how it was going to be used to God's glory! I was struggling so much internally with the whole situation. I was teaching the book of Hebrews during this time and God was speaking loudly to me through it. We were to look at II Corinthians 4 and look at the "treasure we have in earthen vessels." I read that and then I read he whole chapter. I read that we are "...afflicted in EVERY WAY but not crushed, struck down but not destroyed..." because our power is from God. Then I got to a verse I do not remember ever reading before, II Corinthians 4:15 "For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God." I realized that my illness was for my sake and the sake of those around me, as they showed me grace and cared for me I was to be thankful and this is how God would be glorified in the situation. God receives glory when we have our attitude right. Whether that attitude is one of showing grace to those afflicted or as one afflicted being thankful God receives the glory.
If you read on in that chapter it talks about how these things "...that are for your sakes..." are "...light and momentary afflictions." They are producing a weight of glory. The word for weight and the word for glory in Hebrew were the same root and it is believed that this influenced Paul to chose these specific words in Greek that make up this phrase according to the Linguistic and Exegetical Key to the New Testament. The use of these words together implies a prolonged process or a working out. Our afflictions accomplish a purpose that glorifies God whether by a change in us or a change in others and that process takes time. In our microwave generation we want to see the reason now, we want the why's answered and to know the purpose. God does not always share that with us; we may even have to wait until eternity to discover the reason.
The other dilemma many have with being thankful in their circumstance is that they don't appreciate the idea that what they are experiencing is for others. We are a selfish people and we want to know why things are happening to us. If God told us that what was happening was for the benefit of our Christian brother or sister many of us would become angry and bitter. If God told us it was strictly for our benefit than we would could become victims who feel helpless. C.S. Lewis wrote an essay called The Weight of Glory. He states
"It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor's glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken...All day long we are in some degree, helping each other toward a state of worship or corruption..."I love this reminder that we are not here for ourselves. We do have a responsibility to others and God in how we behave and most importantly in our attitude. There are so many people I could thank for helping me move closer to a state of worship. This Thanksgiving season I give thanks for those families whose table we have sat at or who have sat at our table and encouraged us to thank God for the blessings He has given. I am holding fast and pressing on because of the help of those who spur me toward worship and thanksgiving.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
Holding Fast and Pressing On,