I was thinking about Thanksgiving the other day and I read something that stopped me. It was this: “The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts … nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.” Boy, doesn’t that say a lot!
Think about it. Our forefathers—the courageous men and women, who came to this country on the Mayflower, had a pretty tough go of things. And in spite of a huge loss of life and incredible hardship they kept their faith and thanked God, when all they had was a sorry place to live and the hope that they would grow or kill enough food to eat. Others had been wiped out before them and they might be next, but they gave thanks anyway.
Just think about that for a moment and then think about your life. We’ve all had pain in our lives, and maybe you have experienced hurt and suffering that is beyond what we think anyone should have to go through; yet we are called to pause and give thanks to God for Him and His incredible blessings no matter what our circumstances. Read what the apostle, Paul, wrote: Be joyful; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus – 1 Thessalonians 5:16
Just the other day I was listening to a man who was facing prison time and all that would come and go with it. When he sat down to dinner and asked God to bless the food, he realized that this was the first time in his life, he had thanked God for his food and been truly grateful for it. Surely we don’t have to be facing time in prison to be thankful for what God provides for us everyday.
For 25 years we really have been truly grateful to God for allowing us here at New Life to provide the ministry we have to fellow strugglers.
And you know, there has never been a time in our 25-year history that all of us at New Life have sensed, felt, and experienced a greater need for our ministry. People get in trouble, experience hurt, and come face to face with the fact that what they trusted in and depended on is not there for them anymore.
So, when the challenges, the fiery trials, and the tough times in life come your way, the apostle Peter reassures you that it is not unusual or unexpected: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you – 1 Peter 4:12
I want to encourage you with this verse to allow a very old phrase to become part of your meditation during tough times: Think it not strange! Think it not strange when it all falls down or all falls apart. Think it not strange when your plans for the future seem impossible. Think it not strange that your faith, your faithfulness, and your generosity have not protected you from the realities of this fallen world. And . . . think it not strange that at the point of your greatest fear, pain, insecurity, desperation and loss, God wants you to support what He is doing.
Maybe you are like me, and you have found that giving God a portion of some excess brings very little satisfaction. But when I give sacrificially, when it makes no sense, when I could make a strong case to not give, that is when my gift produces far more than I ever dreamed. When you give like that, that’s when your gift is more meaningful to God, it’s more meaningful to whom you choose to give it to, and it will prove to be more meaningful to you.
Two of the most meaningful gifts New Life has ever received were not the two largest gifts we ever received. One was a gift of $4.73. It was from someone who called and told us that was all he had left in his bank account; but that the radio program just had to stay on the air, so he was sending all he had. Boy was that humbling! And it was meaningful to each and every staff member at New Life. It’s had an impact on us like you can’t imagine! It made me so grateful that our President, Larry Sonnenburg, will stretch that $4.73 better than anyone I know.
The gift from the lady who wanted to commit to giving monthly to New Life also had a tremendous impact on us. She knew that we ask for a minimum gift of $30 a month to become a member of Club New Life. But all she could afford to give on a monthly basis was $2. She knew it wouldn’t qualify her to be a Club New Life member, but she asked us to set her up within our automatic giving plan for her to give New Life $2 a month. These gifts were a great reminder to us that God doesn’t look at the size of the gift, but He looks at your heart and the sacrifice.
So . . . I am asking you to do two things:
1. Acknowledge to God that you know there are going to be some amazingly good things that will come from the hurt and pain you might be going through. And thank Him in advance, in the midst of your struggle, for the good that is yet to come . . . that is about to come if you’ll just persevere and endure. You will, “Think it not strange!”
2. Respond to God’s calling for you to give when it is toughest. Not out of your excess, but give sacrificially when it makes the least sense, when it hurts the most. Think it not strange that this is exactly the time that God wants you to respond to His eternal plans rather than to your temporary earthly circumstances.
If you make a gift in response to this Thanksgiving greeting and challenge, I’ll thank you with a gift of The 7-Minute Marriage Solution Devotional Bible.
Thank you for partnering with us!
Think it Not Strange