Think of the cruddiest situation you’ve endured in the last decade.
Changing a stubborn tire without gloves on an expressway in a blizzard with semitrailers sloshing slush on your backside? That’s nothing.
Watching your 16-year-old son throw out boxes of baseball cards, faded jerseys, and a dozen baseball caps after he gets cut from the high school baseball team, and you just don’t know what to say or do? That’s a little harder.
How about sitting for hours on end with a friend whose daughter is dying of leukemia? That’s almost unimaginable.
Then read 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5 (NIV).
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
That passage might even seem like a cruel joke. Be joyful? Pray? Give thanks? This is God’s will?
Now apply that verse to world events. That’s when it really gets impossible. Frankly, this plan of action suggested in Paul’s writing to the church at Corinth does not correspond with anyone’s current outlook. I don’t feel much like rejoicing. Giving thanks seems a little hypocritical. Wouldn’t you agree?
In many ways, praying is hardest of all. Does God really want to hear from us when people we know and love are hurting? Even dying? We’re broken, fearful, and angry. Answers are nowhere to be found. We’re told God is in charge of overseeing this mess and if we start talking to Him, he may not like what we say. Our prayers—loud tirades or silent rage—may be filled with blame, sarcasm, and mistrust
It’s human nature to turn away from God when nasty stuff is happening. He allowed this chaos and you’re ticked off. If you start talking to him, you might say some things you’ll regret.
Well, go ahead—be ticked. God can handle it. Besides, he knows what’s going on in your heart and mind anyway. He also knows what you don’t know. We’re not home yet and on this side of eternity we will always have questions. In our crisis-filled world, we can’t begin to imagine a solution or reason for what’s going on around us. We want clarity, but it’s not ours to have. Yet.
The extent of our knowledge—now and in eternity—is explained well in 1 Corinthians 13:12 (NLT).
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Let’s face it, if we could see the future—God’s entire blueprint for eternity—it would blow our minds. That’s not what we want either. So let’s also rejoice and give thanks for those puzzling, clouded vision of the future.
Let’s also keep praying. By taking that verse from Thessalonians to heart and taking the long view, you can—you will—find yourself living in God’s will. Joy, prayer, and thanksgiving will surely follow. Guaranteed.