Thankful for the negatives
We spend much of our prayer life in thanksgiving – thanking God for food, shelter, family, friends, healing and material blessings. And so we should because every perfect gift comes from above, so James 1:17 teaches. Oftentimes we meet adversity with moaning and complaining instead of facing it with thanksgiving. “Why should we thank God in the bad times?” you might ask. My own experiences have taught me this, as well as Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
One time that seemed negative, proved to work for good. My husband Steve, in preparation for the ministry, had been attending Samford University for about a year when he began encouraging me to enroll. I had plenty of excuses – three children to care for, financial concerns, knowing I had finished my last year and a half of high school through correspondence made me doubt if I had the background, but mainly, I just didn’t like school. I knew I needed to get a degree to be of more help to him, but I was in the valley of indecision.
God put one of those difficult people in my path that made me decide to enroll. She was hard to get along with at best, but when I mentioned starting to school, it brought out her jealous fangs. She had taken one course, so she deemed herself the expert in all things. “Do you really think you can pass the entrance exam?’ she sneered. That did it. I had to prove to her wrong. I wish I could say all doubts ended there, but that’s not true. Balancing my motherly and wifely duties while trying to handle the strenuous academics was difficult to say the least, but when I would be sleep deprived, totally exhausted, and discouraged, those negative words would spur me on. I wasn’t about to give up and quit. With God’s help, I graduated with Steve. Later I went on to get two other degrees. Mrs. Grouch never knew her cutting remarks served as inspiration.
Another negative that turned into something good was during our first pastorate. It was a small country church that was more backward than most. There were outhouses in the side yards of the church. We had some hoodlums that would often attend, just to see how they could cause trouble. When we returned for the night service on one occasion, we drove up to find that a chain had been wrapped around the toilets, hooked to a tractor and pulled across the church property. Of course they were virtually destroyed. This necessitated an emergency business meeting where it was decided the time had come to install inside bathrooms. I was never so thankful for the dirty deeds of the hoodlums.
I know it’s hard to do, but the next time something negative comes your way, just say, “Thank you, Lord, because I can’t wait to see what good you will bring through this.”
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