Thanking God for the Ugly Times
As the Thanksgiving Season approaches, it reminds us to focus on giving God thanks and appreciation towards the many blessings He places in our lives. He is a good Father and deserves all of our praises and attention. It’s easy to express our gratitude when things are going well and you are winning in life. But what about the times of hurt, pain, and confusion? It’s so much harder to express your joy when you are trying to survive the storm. I don’t always understand why God allows bad things to happen, especially to those who are faithful and living a Christian life. We live in a broken world with broken bodies, so bad things are naturally going to happen. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NIV). But what about the seasons of life when the turmoil is beyond the word ‘bad’ and is just down right ugly? You don’t want to hear the platitudes of scripture or any ‘helpful’ advice, which most of the time are words that add insult to injury. How can you thank a good God for these ugly times?
First and this will not sound like it is helpful, just get through it. Don’t expect yourself to be in the right heart posture to thank God. It won’t be real and genuine; and God will know this. Instead, bring this bloody and broken part of your life to Him; shake your fist to the sky if you must! He is bigger than your pain and can handle your hurtful words. There is no need to sugar coat anything. He knows you so intimately because He made you; so there is no need to pretend that everything is ok when it is not. He would rather you be real with Him than fake and fine.
Second, learn from it. Instead of asking, “Why is this happening to me?” try to ask, “What is God trying to show me?” The first ugly season that I had in my adult life was a divorce that left me questioning if God would ever love me again? I brought my bloody and bruised self to God in a church service being held in a movie theater and left being saved and forgiven; all by the grace of God. Looking back at this ugly season, I am thankful because it led me to having a true relationship with God and knowing my identity in God.
Third, lean into it. Instead of asking, “What are you doing God?” try to ask, “What do I need to confess to you God?” The second ugly season that I had in my adult life was sin and shame that left me with a deafening silence with God. My mental and emotional stability was riding on massive fault lines that shook with every step that I took. In my bathroom while hovering over the sink barely able to catch my breath, I whispered my confession and asked for Him to drive the sin away from me. The next day, it felt as if the sin was as far away from me as the moon and I took the next two years to repent and to heal. “As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:2, NIV).