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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Be Thankful In All Things – It Can Be A Blessing In Disguise

The holidays can be a great joy for many people. Families get together to eat and open gifts, watch a movie or just spend quality time with one another. Thanksgiving Day is always a favorite time of mine because I get to sit down and watch NFL football with my extended family. No one has to say anything. Just being in their company is such a joy! Unfortunately, the holidays can be a very negative experience for many people as well. These times can bring back negative emotions of unresolved conflict or broken relationships between family members or friends. Instead of a sense of joy and a thankful heart, an undercurrent of strife brews as extended family enters town. One can only hope there will be peace for the holidays!

I am quite familiar with strife and negative people. A couple of years ago, I worked for a company that had about 30 employees and one of them was extremely negative. He would tear himself and others down constantly. He had a hard time finding anything good to say and was quick to speak negatively about someone else in the office in order to make himself look good. It was hard to be around him. To make matters worse, he began to single me out from the crowd and say offensive things to me and would talk about me behind my back. When I entered the room where he was working, I could sense a bad vibe that I was not welcome in his area. Needless to say, it made work miserable for me. I couldn’t take it any longer. As a Christian, I knew God wanted me to treat him with respect, but it was so hard, especially after months and months of it. One day I prayed to God about the situation and asked Him to either get this person fired or cause him to come into a personal relationship with Jesus. I knew that Jesus could help heal his broken soul if he was willing to turn to God. A week went by and I had to stay late after work one night to finish a project. Everyone had left except the guy who tormented me day after day. All of a sudden he came up to my desk and asked if I was a youth pastor. I said, no, but I do work with the youth of my church and I also lead my church’s college and post college young adults program. He asked me, “Do you find most young people leave their faith after high school? I responded by explaining how God took me through a really dark doubting season of my life and brought me through it to eventually strengthen my faith in God. I also shared with him many difficult things I went through growing up and struggles that God has helped me overcome. He stood amazed at what he was hearing. He couldn’t believe that I had faced all these challenges and struggles. He thought I was this little “goody two shoes” that has never made mistakes or been through any rough patches in life. He said, “the truth is Cory I have been jealous of you because you have so much joy and peace in life and I want what you have!” I explained further, “My joy comes from knowing God through Jesus Christ and experiencing His unconditional love toward me just as I am. I don’t have to strive and try to be good. As I lean on Him, He changes me little by little.” I asked if he wanted to receive Jesus and place his trust in Him so that He could begin to experience the same kind of peace and joy! He wasn’t ready for that step, but from that day forward, he has treated me completely different. He has such a respect for me now and life around the office was quite different. I was so grateful to God that He intervened.

The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].

I had to learn to be THANKFUL in the midst of a very uncomfortable season. There were days I wanted to rip his head off or make a big scene at work! There were days I wanted to stay inward focused and not be out going because of the situation at hand. God took me through this trial to teach me to cast my cares on Him and through prayer and trusting Him, He would work on my behalf at just the right time.

The bible says in Romans 12:19, Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

The bible also teaches us to pray for our enemies. If we will take the people in our lives that are trying to hurt us to God and allow Him to work in the situation, we will see God do miracles on our behalf. I was amazed at how quickly the situation turned around as I gave it to Him. Just think, this person is way closer to accepting Jesus as his Savior and Lord because I allowed God to work on my behalf. His perception of God was skewed probably due to past church or family experiences and it had left some major hurts in his life. God in His great wisdom revealed glimpses of His true nature to my coworker as I was available and willing to go through all the difficult circumstances and rely on God’s strength and direction. What an amazing testimony of God’s goodness. After this season ended, I looked back and was so thankful for it. My coworker’s life was forever changed and he had taken huge steps forward in knowing God personally. I remember saying to myself, “I would go through the pain all over again to see him being transformed and for the nuggets of Truth I learned.”

I want to encourage you to trust and lean on God if you are in relationship with unpleasant people or will be around them during this holiday season. The trial you are facing can bring great blessing into your life if you will entrust those difficult people to God and allow Him to work on your behalf. You just might be the instrument He chooses to use to bring healing, faith, mercy and love into their lives and ultimately a TRUE knowledge of God.

I pray God’s very best for you and your family this Thanksgiving!

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