By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Heb 13:15)
Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Php 4:6-7)
A man was sitting in a chair on his lawn beholding all that God had done for him; how He provided a nice home; a nice neighborhood to live in and how blessed he was. As he sat weeping and praying he thanked God for everything God had blessed him with materially.
However, somewhere in his prayer, his heart's desire changed from thankfulness to discontent. He began questioning God as to why he wasn't being used in the kingdom of God and why his life seemed useless. A week down the road, his discontentment led to discouragement. Then in a matter of weeks, his discouragement turned into self-pity and depression; a desire to die and then lastly he ended up failing.
As it often happens, just like this man, discontentment and self-pity can lead us down roads we never thought we would travel. It opens up the door to so many problems, that if possible, it can even destroy our walk with God. We have all been discouraged at some point in our lives. There are many times we do not understand God's ways. However, we must be careful not to let discouragement rob us of our faith.
As you will soon read in this study, there are solutions to life's seemingly unfair circumstances without falling prey to the sin of murmuring and un-thankfulness.
GOD, I HAVE DREAMS!
Anyone who has truly been born again and is a true disciple of Jesus Christ wants all the best that God has for them, no matter the cost. If God has placed a seed of promise into your heart, then the dream of being used by God becomes even more of a passion in your life. Nothing in this world compares to seeing God use you for his glory.
Your dream, placed there by God, becomes your destiny. However, no matter how much that desire burns within you, you know that only God can bring you into it. But, none-the-less you still keep crying out to God to bring your dreams to pass not really understanding the paths that you will go down.
LORD, IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE!
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; (Col 4:2)
Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. (John 11:21-22)
Why is it that Jesus always seems to be late, slow or never shows up when we think He should show up? Sometimes He seems to just pass on by! Isn't it frustrating knowing God can do anything and still our prayers seem to be ignored! Would you like to know the answer as to why? We'll... we will see later! First we need to explore our reactions to God's mysterious will and timing.
THANK YOU LORD... BUT!
I am reminded of a story on one Christmas day of a boy who was excitingly opening his presents. He kept saying "Thank you" after opening each gift. When he finished opening his gifts he started contently playing with the new toys as the parents went into the kitchen to prepare a feast.
The father came in to check on the boy, and noticed him sitting there pouting. The father asked the boy what was wrong. The boy replied, "Thank you for all these gifts, but is this all there is?" Can you imagine what the father thought when he heard that?
At some point in time, most saints of God will do the same thing. They will thank God when everything goes their way. But, when things go against their thinking they will murmur and question God, His will and His timing.
Whether your dream is to sing, preach, see miracles, pastor a church, see your church grow or be apart of the greatest harvest in your country, you will never get anything from God if you are discontent, discouraged or complain about what you already have. We must be content with the place God has placed us.
WHY ME? IT'S JUST NOT FAIR!
You lose your job, your marriage is struggling, your 401k is shrinking or you get cancer. Then on top of that, God has to chastise you and perfect you! It is very tough to stay afloat; you feel like sinking under the load! It feels like God has left you and that He is mad at you! "IT JUST AIN'T FAIR!" you cry. You become discouraged, discontent and then self-pity slams you with such force! You are edging closer to walking away from this whole God thing!
You feel in your heart that you have fasted, prayed and did everything you know to do. You know you desire God with everything in you! You have no desire for fame, wealth or worldliness. What seems so unfair is that you believe with everything in you, but here you stand looking at walls and closed doors. It seems God has completely left you and is not hardly helping you at all. These times are the most frustrating times when living for God. It is very easy to feel discouragement, self-pity depression or even suicide.
Remember Joseph in the Bible? He was hated by his brethren, sold into Egypt, tempted by Potifer's wife, cast into prison for a few years. It could have been very easy for Joseph to get angry or have self-pity. It seemed God totally let all kinds of trouble come against him. It seems God left him all alone. Life was totally unfair to Joseph!
IT'S THE DEVIL'S FAULT
I often hear a lot of people blame the devil for most of the things that happen in their lives. They say "The devil is attacking me!" You will find in most cases that adversity is orchestrated by God himself.
Look at the attack of the devil on Job. It was God that approached the devil and it was God that gave the devil free reign to attack Job. Looking at Joseph you can clearly see that God orchestrated the trials he had to go through.
We have to understand that the devil is on a leash. God can bind or loose him in our lives if it is God's plan in certain circumstance. The only time we encounter demonic attack unnecessarily is if are drawn away by our own lust and enticed, or we willing sin and invite the devil in. So, we need to understand that attacks of the enemy are allowed to perfect us. God orchestrates and does a work even using our hated enemy!
GOD, IT'S YOUR FAULT
"What? I would never blame God for my trouble." Most of us would never openly say that it's God's fault, but we may come into a situation where we secretly thought this. Oh, we don't say it out loud to God. But we either say it in our mind or by our actions. Our attitude is actually the thing that gives us away.
Not sure if you have ever thought about this or not. But is it possible that discouragement that turns into self-pity, anger, murmurings or resentment is actually us finding fault in the way God does things? We may think it is just discouragement and it isn't that bad. But, in the back of our mind we may be finding fault in God Himself even though we know it is not His fault!
MY LIFE ISN'T BEING BLESSED, WHY?
I knew a lady in the Lord who was well off financially. However, she made a statement saying, "Why doesn't God bless me?" She paid her tithes and gave in offerings, yet she felt God wasn't blessing her.
She seemed to have a major hang-up; she was a complainer and was not very thankful. She was never happy and content. She would complain about the money she'd have to spend. She was a penny pincher and not very giving to others. Is it no wonder she didn't feel blessed of God!
There are only two reasons for not being blessed by God. They are disobedient to God or it just isn't God's will and time at that time.
MURMUR, MURMUR, MURMUR
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. (Exodus 16:2-3)
We are all familiar with the murmurings of Israel and how God was very mad at them for it. Why? They truly had needs of food and water. It wasn't because they asked. So, what was it that God was mad at? It's called "Murmuring." The word murmuring means, to grumble with discontent; to find fault! Their attitude was of complaining, discontentment and finding fault in the way God was running their lives.
UNTHANKFUL... LORD, NOT ME!
Sometimes we feel thankful for things God does do for us. But we hardly see those little harmless complaints towards God as being damaging. When you sit and really think about those little complaints that don't seem like much, you can't but help to see that murmuring has its roots in un-thankfulness. We may not think we are unthankful, but are we?
When God sees and hears us murmuring, he has to withhold from us. God hates murmuring because it is an assault to His own power! Murmuring, which is a sin, tells God that He don't know what he is doing.
I'M SO SORRY LORD
Here we are standing in God's presence, ashamed and broken hearted. We never realized that we complaining ever so slightly and questioning God and His will in our lives. It may be human nature to complain, but when we got the Holy Ghost we were supposed to have forsaken our will at the altar and become thankful. Confession and repentance is the gateway to being free from a murmuring spirit. Once this murmuring has been truly repented of, then you should find a peace knowing God has everything in control.
YOUR WAY IS BEST
So, back to our story above. Why does it seem God sometimes is late or never answers us when we expect Him to? Why does God let evil and trouble come against us? These questions can become big walls in our lives. We seem to face these walls and just stand there weeping. We try to get around them but just end up getting frustrated.
God purposely lets these things happen or stand in our way because they are His platform to show His glory. God has a plan and He will carry it out in our lives no matter what we do or say about it; unless of course you quit on God.
Stomp your feet, cry and scream, fast your belly-button off. Feed self-pity or even backslide. God will have His way, because He knows what is best! God is the one who lets things happen to us. God even uses evil, trials, delays and even the answer "NO" to teach us and help us do His plan.
Shall the clay say to the potter, "Why have you made me thus?" As God answered Job, "Where were you when I created the heavens?" Also consider that God delays answers because it just is not His time yet! Understanding the sovereignty of God will help you find peace. You will not have to know why. Being content with how God orders your steps will make the trip much nicer.
There is this neat little revelation that hit me one day, it goes something like this; "I have finally figured God out! He can do what He wants, when He wants and how He wants without asking me for permission. All I have to do is love and obey Him. And that is all I need to know about Him!" It seems basic, but some of the simplest things concerning God are not always the easiest to learn.
THANK YOU FOR ALL THINGS
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Th 5:18)
When looking at people in scripture, it is easy to surmise that tribulation comes to everyone. Yet, even in their human frailty there are some who rise above their circumstances.
Men like Moses, Joshua, Caleb had to endure great hardship because of Israel's stubbornness. Judges, Kings and prophets endured tribulations. Then there are those such as Joseph, Job, Daniel, David and lastly Jesus who went through extreme circumstances.
How did some of these men endure such suffering? How did they maintain their faith in God? By having an attitude of thankfulness! "Thankfulness?" you say with reservation!
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Dan 6:10)
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. (1 Pe 2:19)
When trouble comes into our life, the natural thing to do is murmur and fall into self-pity; that's easy to do! Because we feel discouragement and sometimes self-pity, we often are only seeing life through our small little space of time. It's hard to be thankful because we are in need at that moment.
To combat these destructive attitudes we must go against our flesh. We need to arm ourselves with the mindset in which God likes. What is the opposite of discouragement and self-pity? Thankfulness is one of the most powerful attitudes you can possess. Thankfulness can disarm the devil. It can reverse discouragement and loose faith. It can propel you into the presence of God.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. (Psalm 100:4)
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; (Eph 5:19-20)
Thankfulness is the verbal expression that God is in full control. Thankfulness really is the root of submission. When we thank God for all things, we are saying "Lord, not my will, but thine will be done."
LOOSE YOUR FAITH
To succeed in life's battles, you need the whole armor of God to win. The shield of faith is what protects you from fatal blows to the soul by the enemy. Un-thankfulness causes us to drop our shield in the most critical time of the battle. When we get discouraged or fall into self-pity we open ourselves to the darts of demonic attack.
In the times of discouragement, is when it is crucial that we need to loose our faith through thankfulness. It empowers us to resist the temptation to question God. When we question God, we bind our own faith. God is only moved by His will and faith. Often, God lets the trouble come so we can loose our faith.
God has this process He puts us through. First, He sends an obstacle, presents us with a choice to exercise faith, then does something great!
When we are thankful, we bind the negative aspect of the battle. The things we desire God to do sometimes is cancelled because we complain. The whole purpose of faith is to see God move in our life. By being thankful, we loose our faith and God does great things!
As we wrap this study up, one has to confront his/her attitude concerning discouragement and self-pity. However, doing so may bring a flood of thoughts about who is in control of your life; you or God.
Often little children pout because they cannot have their way. It is very easy to pout spiritually when we don't understand. I am reminded of the tug-of-war that is often played at picnic outings. Each side has a hold of the rope and is pulling the other side to their side. Tug-of-war with God never works... ever! The only time you will ever win is when God just lets go of the rope and gives you what you want. And that is not going to be good for you if He does.
A better attitude is by far the main catalyst that causes a parent to bless their child. A child who is obedient, content and thankful for everything the father does for them, is the child that gets blessed.
We have to believe that no matter what God allows to come our way, that, that is what is best for us. Since God created all principalities, powers and even allows evil to touch our lives; can't we understand that we are just clay and really do not control anything?
I know it can be hard and frustrating trying to figure out what is wrong. But, sometimes we are not doing anything wrong; God just wants to help us while He gets glory. Sometimes God won't do anything about a situation you are in. You fast and weep before God; but your prayer goes unanswered, your relative dies, your spouse walks out the door. No, we don't have to understand! No, we may not know why we are going through a tragedy like "Job." No, you may not feel thankful.
However, to truly say that Jesus is really the Master of your life, means that you can accept His will with contentment and give thanks for all of it!!