Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Giving Thanks for Our Trouble

For the 6 April 2014 bulletin

Giving Thanks for Our Trouble

During the week I came across this story that I hope will challenge you as much as it challenged me.

Ours is a God who does not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted and does not hide his face from them.” There is always a sense in which great living is found the midst of suffering and tears.

An old Yiddish folk story tells of a well-to-do gentleman of leisured much interested in the Hebrew Scriptures. He visited a wise rabbi to ask a question. He said: “I think I grasp the sense and meaning of these writings except for one thing. I cannot understand how we can be expected to give God thanks for our troubles.” The rabbi knew instantly that he could not explain this with mere words. He said to the gentleman: “If you want to understand this, you will have to visit Isaac the water-carrier.” The gentleman was mystified by this, but knowing the rabbi to be wise, crossed to a poor section of the settlement and came upon Isaac the water-carrier, an old man who had been engaged in mean, lowly, backbreaking labor for some fifty years.

The gentleman explained the reason for his visit. Isaac paused from his labors. Finally, after several minutes of silence, looking baffled, he spoke: “I know that the rabbi is the wisest of men. But I cannot understand why he would send you to me with that question. I can’t answer it because I’ve had nothing but wonderful things happen to me. I thank God every morning and night for all his many blessings on me and my family.”

It is true, is it not? The pure in heart see God. The humble in spirit know Christ’s joy and enter into God’s glory. “For I consider,” writes Paul, “that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

In taking a fresh look at Ephesians 5:20 (see below) I would like to add that giving thanks to God is part and parcel of living wisely in a time of evil. May God bless us as we reflect on our attitude in giving thanks (or lack of).

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:15-21: ESV)


  1. Dear brother Paul,
    I was looking at my own blog, wondering how I could write about what was weighing on my own heart, when in my feed I see this title to your post.
    God spoke to you and I am truly blessed by it.
    I will share your article and point others back here.

    Blessings in the name of Jesus!


    1. grateful to know this has been helpful. Many blessings and a prayer that God will grant you abundant grace in your time of trial.

  2. I liked the story Paul. Yet my thinking is that we give thanks in our trouble and not for them.

  3. excellent distinction Bob. Thanks. I do agree