Thank God, life is hard.

Throughout Scripture there is reference after reference to rejoicing in persecution, exulting in our tribulations and finding joy in our trials.

Never have I heard of a person actually doing this.

When the pastor opens up the service to a time of thanksgiving, people in the crowd lift up their voices to worship God for their salvation, provision, family, and more.

I don’t recall anyone ever saying:

Thank you God that life is hard right now.

A few days ago, I posted the words to “Blessed Be His Name” by Matt Redman. This song is a powerful reminder that in times of trial, as well as in times of ease, we are to bless the name of the Lord. Worship songs abound with lyrics proclaiming God’s goodness in spite of our present difficulties.

But we’re called to rejoice in our tribulations:

“Thank You, Lord, for the persecution I receive as a Christian in my workplace, allowing me to be a light in the darkness for You.”

“Praise Your name, God, for my illness, which is building character in me.”

“Bless You, Father, for the postponement of my heart’s desire. I am learning to persevere.”

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:3-5

I’ve never heard this from anyone who is in the midst of a difficult time. However, I have experienced it first-hand after I’ve come through the purifying crucible fire. It is then that I recognize that what I would have spared myself from, actually produced growth, maturity and a deepening of my faith.

::

As they approached the furnace, I bet Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not eagerly anticipating the fire. As the sweat began pouring down their faces and the men delivering them to the blaze died around them, I bet their hearts beat a little faster. However, while they were in the midst of it, as Nebuchadnezzar peered through the flames at them, they were walking with Jesus.

Then Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the midst of the fire. The satraps, the prefects, the governors and the king’s high officials gathered around and saw in regard to these men that the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men nor was the hair of their head singed, nor were their trousers damaged, nor had the smell of fire even come upon them. Daniel 3:26b-27, emphasis mine

So, thank you, God, for the things in my life that are hard.

I praise You and trust that You know better than I. I am grateful to You that I can walk through those times, knowing that the fire can have no effect on me, other than the effects You intend for my good.

What has God walked you through, that was painful at the time, but you rejoice in now?

Or, in general, what things are you grateful for today?

**Today I’m taking part in the One Word @ A Time Blog Carnival on Gratitude, hosted by Bridget Chumbley. Come on over and take a peek at what others are grateful for!
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32 thoughts on “Thank God, life is hard.

  1. This is so true. He has taught me this as well through my most recent fiery trial. Now when someone tells me of their current struggle, I get a little excited at how God is going to show-up and invade. Count it all joy. All of it. I want to do that regardless of my days. He has purpose. All the time.

  2. Yes. It’s one of my favorite things about God–that He makes good out of bad. I read recently somewhere that we ought to thank God at our trials that He has taken the time to deal with us. :0) I am thankful for the trials I’ve come through, but have a harder time thanking God for the trial I’m in the midst of. Great reminder and challenge.

    • This is a challenge for me, as well. I too am grateful for what God has taught me through my trials, but I frequently forget to thank Him in the midst of them.

  3. A very meaningful post. I am thankful that God let me help my mom while she had Alzheimer’s. It was very difficult, but it taught me better to love unconditionally. Now I have great memories instead of feeling regrets about it. Thanks for asking the hard questions.

  4. I think I tend to be thankful for trials once I am through them… but realizing that it is IN the trials and pain that God’s Presence is the most strongly felt, I think I should learn to be thankful in the moment… because that is where God is

  5. People don’t say it much, but I’ll bet they think it. They think it in a teeth-gritted, force-the-words-out-of-my-mouth-because-I-know-it’s-true-even-though-I-hate-every-minute-of-it kind of way.

    • I bet you’re right, Kathleen. I’m sure people are persevering through their trials and not proclaiming it. I know this is something God is asking me to do more of. :)

  6. This is too funny. I was leading worship this past Sunday, and I TOTALLY reminded people to thank God for the hard things they were going through. I think my words may have been incredibly close to “thank God that life is hard right now…”
    What’s especially funny (by funny I mean coincidental and that it strikes me as peculiarly God), is that I was taking time during our normal “plan” of our worship in song time to “Be still and know.” After your previous post about not letting our plan get in the way, I really felt lead to make room for something else in our service. I didn’t make it a planned thing, just some time for what God would be leading us in. It was a great morning with our church community, and I feel like you were a part of it. Thanks for being an encouragement and sharing what God is teaching you – that’s often how He teaches others.

    • This…I love! How fun to be a part of your local church community when we’re so far away. :) That’s a great compliment, Levi. Now, I think you and Christy need to come visit…

  7. God walked me through 4 pregnancy losses. I rejoice that we survived and thrived and were blessed again, but gosh…it still hurts sometimes.

    I still think about those babies every. single. day. Reminders stir up what those awful, shocking losses were like. I suppose I am never supposed to forget, because if I did my life wouldn’t be a testimony to what he can accomplish and how he works to bring beauty from ashes.

    Rejoicing and remembering are better together.

    • Gretchen, having only been through one, I have no idea what you have experienced. I rejoice with you that you have survived and thrived through that. So many have lost their faith through times like those, and I don’t blame them. I have gotten so angry with God over the things some of my friends have gone through, asking Him, “Why do you keep allowing them to be hurt like this?” I know that I had a hard time blessing His name in the midst of their situation, I can’t imagine how much harder it was for them (or you). Thank you for sharing your experience here, and for your beautiful words about remembering. You are a testimony to what He can accomplish and how He works to bring beauty from ashes!

  8. i was recently sharing this with a friend…we wish someone out of suffering, yet that is where the refining growth and utter dependence on the Lord comes in. i want God to process us through, but it is so very hard to endure, isn’t it?

    i have been sick since friday – migraines and nausea. still have nausea. last night, i told my husband, “God says i should be thankful for everything! So thank you God that I’m sick!!!” i was actually being silly, but it led me to pray in that hurting hour and it was a sweet time…

    God is still good, even when it hurts.

    • I’ve always loved the verse in Acts 4, where the new church members gather to pray because of the persecution they’re facing. Instead of asking God to remove the persecution, they ask for boldness of speech. Sometimes I think we forget that, and just ask God to take away the problems. You’re so right, “that is where the refining growth and utter dependence on the Lord comes in.” Praying you are returned to health today…oh, wait…maybe I shouldn’t. Now I’m all confused. Haha!

  9. Wow…we were kind of thinking the same direction for the Carnival today. I wrote on our not being grateful for the correction of the Lord because too often we lump shame on top of it.

    I know I wasn’t praising God for the trial I just went through but have been since it’s been over. And I’ve seen a lot of growth through it. I’d like to say next time I’ll praise Him in the trial but I know me too well to guarantee it. :)

    • I’m still catching up on reading everyone’s posts…I wasn’t home much yesterday. Now I’m intrigued to see what you said. Heading over now. :)

  10. Like everyone else, I’ve been through plenty of trials. And I don’t ever remember rejoicing during them, but like you say, I could see the benefit later. (Sometimes much later)

    Right now, my life is rolling along without too many troubles, and I can’t help but wonder: What trials are in store for me next? And will I think to praise God for them?

    Maybe the trials would pass more quickly/easily if my attitude was different while in the midst of the fire. Ouch.

    • That’s an interesting thought. It makes sense though, because when we’re not focused on the length of things they do seem to go by faster. I’ll have to try that. :)

  11. HEY YOU!!!! The Joy in trials thing is coming up in my James study – thunder stealer! grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr :)

    But I’m really glad I get to cheat by reading your take first :)

    This is beauty, by the way, and wisdom, and really really hard to do isn’t it?! But worth it. to say:

    “thank you, God, for the things in my life that are hard.”

    I just said it in prayer to Our Lord because of you. If you hadn’t written it I wouldn’t have had that really nice time with Our God. Contagious – that’s a good thing for a blog to be right? I caught you today. (almost wrote and God said Bless you – sneeze analogy – sure am glad I didn’t write that – whew!)

    And I’ll share a little with you – just you – nobody else read this. Melissa, I am emerging from the darkest decade and a half of my life. And at least one thorn will always be piercing my side. It is what it is. Anyway, that’s a long time in the fire. You were like in third grade when it started.

    And I am really glad I said thank you a lot amid the darkness. Because I understood God was working through it.

    And it was awful, and torturous, and severe, and almost unbearable at times, almost didn’t make it once or twice. Through it he transformed a useless vessel into something it should have been all along. Don’t tell anybody.

    Can’t believe you got even that much out of me. Sneaky!

  12. yep, and the 3 Hebrew children came out of the furnace not even smelling of smoke. That’s what happens when we walk with Jesus in the fire–we don’t even stink afterwards. :)

    I don’t know that I have ever said, “thank you God for this sucky situation” but I have definitely found strength in praising and worshipping Him in the midst of those darkest times. I trust Him that what happens in my life is a gift that will bring me closer to Him and His ways.

    Great stuff, Melissa. Thanks.

  13. One thing that I employ in times of suffering, pain, or whatever uncomfortable emotion it may be, is to place it at the foot of His Cross; in unity with His suffering on the Cross. It’s one way that I can rejoice in Him and His plan through the pain. When I’m depressed or unable to sleep because of worry or fear, I offer it up. Offering it up has become a tool for me, the only thing sometimes that I CAN do to praise Jesus in the midst of my problem. I’m hoping that through this act, I can become better at thanksgiving for trials and tribulations.

    It’s quite the difficult thing for us to do in our humanness, isn’t it?

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  15. I don’t know that I’ve actually ever said thank you during the trial… but it is certain that I’ve grown and been stretched as a result. I feel like I’m better equipped because of a few situations that felt like the end of the world at the time. One example is when my hubby had cancer, when we had a 2 year old and a 2 month old… tough times.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • The main point I had in this post was to express a desire to get to the point where I am genuinely grateful to God for the trials and persecutions I experience. And I guess I’m not sure that any of us would ever get to the point where we would thank God for it. It seems impossible when faced with situations like yours. But, I try to keep in mind that nothing is impossible with God. Thanks for hosting the blog carnival! :) I’m glad I got to participate in this one.

  16. During all these years, I have finally become more understanding of the fruits that are a result of the pruning and the other “gardening” skills that the Lord adheres to. Sometimes the initial reaction isn’t very submissive … did I say “sometimes”? I think the truth is “Never is the initial reaction submissive”. However, it’s improving. Thanks for your insights. Definitely some wise thoughts.

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