Friday, January 31, 2014

"For"



Not long ago in my journey of steeping my soul by Ephesians one verse at a time, one tiny preposition arrested my attention: "for," as in "always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 5:20, NIV1984).

For? Really? But the Bible teachers say we don't have to give thanks "for" everything, just "in" everything (which is in fact the preposition in 1 Thess. 5:18). How did "for" get in here all of a sudden? Maybe a different translation will correct this:

giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (ESV);
giving thanks always for everything
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (HCSB);
always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (NASB);
giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (KJV);
giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the God and Father (YLT).

All right then. I stand corrected. Always, for all things. But...

How, Lord? How do I thank You for the dashed hopes and failed medical treatments? How do I thank You for the believing Christian families in desperate financial difficulties? For the friends whose hearts break daily over the addictions and substance abuse of their loved ones? For the little ones who don't know why Daddy is always angry and doesn't play with them much anymore? For the families weighed down and oppressed by mental illnesses? For the mother lost in a fog of dementia, for the father whose nervous system doesn't obey his will anymore, for the stroke victim who is changed for the rest of this life? For the wounded and broken marriages? How do I thank You for the pain in this fallen world? Isn't that unkind, even cruel, to the suffering ones for whom You call me to intercede?

Then something nudges me back to a text 11 days old, words of wisdom from a Barnabas friend:
I know that His grace is sufficient, not because of anything we see, but because of His unchangeable nature. Our response of faith brings that hope to sight. Even when everything looks hopeless, we are held fast in His Love. I don't understand why you must walk this path. And I would wish it away if I could. . . . But that would be because of my finite perspective. Because of His goodness, I know He has purpose and a plan for setting your feet to this path. I know it like I know He is Good. And so I must thank Him, my friend, for what you are facing because I trust Him fully, though my mind wants to beg Him to "fix" it. Rest in the knowledge that you are sharing in the suffering of Christ, becoming more and more like Him as you receive these trials that reveal your deeper and deeper dependence on Him. You are very dear to His heart. And no tear you shed goes unnoticed. May your heart be filled up to overflowing with praise, gratitude, worship, and joy (shared with my friend's permission).
She thanked God for a few hard things in my life we were discussing, yet all I felt from her was love because her thankfulness was grounded in the character of God. Because of His goodness. Because I trust Him. By His grace, I can give thanks for all things, for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever.

I can give thanks to My Father for all things for the opportunity for my dear ones and me to know Christ in the fellowship of His sufferings.

I can give thanks to God for all things for the opportunity to become more and more like Christ.

I can thank God for the thorns, for they reveal our deeper and deeper dependence on Him.

I can give thanks for our afflictions, yours and mine and theirs, for they are light and momentary and producing for us "an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory" ( 2 Cor. 4:17, HCSB).

I can give thanks for all things, for You are strong, and You are loving. You love each of these hurting ones more than I do. You love me more than my little pea brain is able to grasp. You would not allow a single hard thing to touch us unless it was ultimately for our good.

I don't understand, Lord. I would wish these hard things away if I could. I ask that you would let these cups pass from him, her, them, me. Yet not my will but Yours be done. You are good. Your love endures forever. So thank You... for all of it. Thank You for the pain, for the heartache, for the unfixable problems, for the storms. Help me to mean that thanks and feel it with my whole heart. Oh, for grace to trust You more!

And for you, dear Crumble, if you are struggling with a "for" in your life today, a "how can I thank God for that?" situation, I offer my friend's words and prayer to you: "Rest in the knowledge that you are sharing in the suffering of Christ, becoming more and more like Him as you receive these trials that reveal your deeper and deeper dependence on Him. You are very dear to His heart. And no tear you shed goes unnoticed. May your heart be filled up to overflowing with praise, gratitude, worship, and joy." May our Lord grant you grace to offer Him this sacrifice of thanksgiving for your good and His glory.

Thank You, Lord, for You are good, and Your steadfast love never fails;
for the glory awaiting Your children;
for the power of Christ's resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings;
for a few more verses of Ephesians stored away in my heart;
for the "new" things You keep showing me in Your Word because I didn't notice them the fifteenth or fiftieth time;

for wise friends;
for happy times with family this month;
for date nights with my Amore;
for sleepy puppy smell;
for Ebony's tail wagging in his sleep;
for enormously generous and unexpected gifts;
for the love of my Bible study friends;
for loving notes and even gifts from some of you Crumbles;

for my new autoimmune medicine;
for no change noticeable after 6 weeks;
for new custom orthotics to try and heal my ankle;
for insurance exclusions;
for the last several years of chronic pain;
for all the treatments that haven't worked;

for sharing the pain of friends;
for prayers not answered yet, or not answered the way we want;
for problems I can't fix;
for the blessing of troubles that drive me/her/them to deeper dependence on You;
for all the ways I fall short of Your glory;
for the sufficient work of Christ;
for daily reminders of the gospel: in Tim Keller's words, "You are ore sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, yet you can be more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope at the same time because Jesus Christ died in your place."
(gratitude list 2014, #307-332)

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for sharing your day with me! Your presence here is a gift. *You* are a gift. Right now I am unable to reply to every comment, but please know I read and pray for each and every commenter. Grace and peace to you in Christ.