After a spell of grumbling and complaining at the Zornes’ house, my mom had my sister, Jaclyn, and me make these little craft-paper signs which said, “NO GRUMBLIES ALLOWED.” We had to put these signs on the different areas of our house where we were most prone to complain. The closet where disorder seemed ever to reign which mom had asked us to clean. The dishwasher and sink where the laborious duty of scrubbing plates and unloading silver-wear was performed. The bathroom where, every week, we were supposed to scrub and clean the shower, toilet, sink and floor. Those signs lingered around the Zornes’ house for quite awhile, if my memory serves me correctly; and they taught me an important lesson in learning how to discern God’s will for my life.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to the conviction that we oft over-think the will of God. We have very much a pagan understanding of seeking God’s will: pray enough, fast enough, go to a mountain top, seek the wisdom of some hoary-headed saint, etc. Once the stars align, a lighting bolt will “open doors” and sure enough, you’ll know that God is really, like, leading you. While many of those things are vital and important and ought not to be tossed aside lightly, we often want to know the will of God more than we want to know God. All too often those things we do to “seek God’s will” become excuses to ignore the plain revelation of God’s Word, such as:
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thes. 5:18).
This means that God’s will for those in Christ Jesus is that they give thanks in everything. And everything here, in the original Greek tense, taking the predicated verb with the object of the preposition . . . or something like that . . . means, well, yeah, everything. In essence, there should be a big “NO GRUMBLIES ALLOWED” sign tacked up to the entrance of our soul! I have been in one of the busiest stretches of my life, and I have had to remind myself that when I fall into the bed at the end of the day exhausted–still feeling like I’ve got a bunch of work I didn’t get to–and then I wake up still exhausted the next morning, that this is an opportunity for giving thanks.
It is easy for us to give thanks when large things take place in our life, but the Christian is one who sees this world with a sort of double vision. We see the trials, tragedies, pains and problems, and yet, rather than growing discouraged when difficulty strikes, we see “through” the circumstance to God’s mighty hand of providence leading us into greater love and affection for Him. When the night of suffering and difficulty grows dark, the light of Christ grows all the more precious.
One reason I can give thanks in the midst of a busy and stretching season is this: when my strength is spent, it is a reminder to me that God has set up an opportunity for Him to showcase how good He is in upholding His saints. Yes we depend on Him at all times, but He will bring situations into our life where we are brought to freshly recognize His kindness and goodness and empowering grace which He incessantly flows unto the believing soul. Thus, whether I enter a season of difficulty or a season of ease, I give thanks. For, in the brightest day, He must light my way, and in the darkest night, His light will still shine.
Recently, in reading through “The Scottish Chiefs” again, I was freshly stuck by the fact that Wallace became Scotland’s hero as a result of the tragedy of losing his wife and unborn child. He made this statement: “Though Scotland lay in ruins, I was happy: I felt no captivity while in Marion’s arms: even oppression was forgotten, when she made the sufferer’s tears cease to flow. She absorbed my wishes, my thoughts, my life!–and she was wrested from me, that I might feel myself a slave; that the iron might enter into my soul, with which I was to pull down tyranny, and free my country.”
God is jealous over us. He will not allow us to love anything more than Himself; often He will chastise those He loves in order to see them set free from the love of earthly things, and find Him to be the treasure and delight that He is. No grumblies will be allowed in the soul that, in the best and worst of times, finds Christ to be the lovely source of true delight that He is. So, saints of God, give thanks in all things for this is God’s will for you, in every season, circumstance or situation. In giving thanks, we are acknowledging that nothing in this earth is more precious than the knowledge of the thrice holy God of glory!