From Pastor Jeff
Thank God, Even for the Challenges!
One of my favorite hymns is “Count Your Blessings.” Not only is it a fun hymn to sing, but it has a powerful message. The first verse reads:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
I think that at one time or another, all of us have felt like we were in a leaking boat in the midst of a storm. When we see the crash of the lightning, hear the roar of the wind, and feel the power of the waves, it is easy to become discouraged. Life can be overwhelming at times. Sometimes it is hard to see our blessings, much less count them.
Another favorite hymn, “My Lord Is Near Me All the Time,” challenges us to see God in the lightning, to hear God in the thunder, to feel God in the rain, to sense the presence of God through these natural wonders.
In the lightning flash across the sky His mighty pow’r I see,
And I know if He can reign on high, His light can shine on me.
When the thunder shakes the mighty hills and trembles ev’ry tree,
Then I know a God so great and strong can surely harbor me.
When refreshing showers cool the earth and sweep across the sea,
Then His rainbow shines within my heart, His nearness comforts me.
Perhaps it is in the crack of the lightning, in the quake of the thunder, in the drenching of the rain that we experience God with us. Perhaps it is only when we are “tempest-tossed” that we begin to really look for God and discover that He has been with us all the time.
As Thanksgiving approaches it is natural that we express our gratitude to God for the good things we enjoy in our lives. It’s a little harder to thank God for our struggles and trials. Yet, Romans 5:3-5 tells us “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”
I may not quite be ready to rejoice in suffering, but I certainly rejoice in the love of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. Our Lord is near us all the time.