Always celebrate, never stop praying; in everything be thankful (this is God’s will for you in the Messiah Jesus). [1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NTE)]
Earlier this week, I wrote about the ten Boom sisters giving thanks in their horrible circumstances. Because of the physical pain I’ve been experiencing these last several weeks, I know how easy it is to talk the talk but how hard it is to actually walk it. Indeed, when you’re hurting, giving thanks in all circumstances is far easier said than done.
1 Thessalonians 5:18, however, doesn’t say we must give thanks for everything; we are to give thanks in everything and there’s a big difference between the two. Knowing that God’s love and mercies never cease and that we are His well-loved children, even though we don’t welcome our circumstances, we can be thankful in them. Even when we can’t see His purpose in our present situation, we know that God is intimately involved in them and is working for our good through them. We can be thankful that we are not facing our affliction alone. Jesus was with Corrie and Betsie ten Boom in Ravensbrück, He’s here with me, and He’s there beside you wherever and whatever you’re going through. Knowing this enables us to give thanks in all circumstances!
While writing about Betsie and Corrie ten Boom, I remembered Betsie’s response to Corrie when she asked how they could live in the deplorable conditions of the Ravensbrück concentration camp. Rather than answering her sister, Betsie immediately started to pray, but she didn’t ask God to change their situation. Instead, she simply asked God to show them how to live in their present one; “Show us. Show us how,” she prayed.
Recalling Betsie ten Boom’s prayer of “Show us,” I realized that, along with discerning God’s purpose for my pain and giving thanks in my circumstances, I needed to ask Him to show me how to function in my new normal. If given a choice, I wouldn’t have selected back and neck pain from life’s menu but my pastor friend wouldn’t have chosen stage-4 cancer nor would my sister have selected MS. The ten Boom sisters wouldn’t have chosen a concentration camp and none of us would have selected a pandemic. As unwanted as they were, however, they were what we got. Let us graciously accept them as we ask for God’s guidance and the power to live in them. Someday, it all will make sense. Until that time, as we wonder how we can function in our difficult circumstances, we can pray Betsie’s prayer: “Show us. Show us how.” God answered me and He will answer you!
There is nothing—no circumstance, no trouble, no testing—that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no circumstance will cause me to fret, for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is—that is the rest of victory! [Alan Redpath]