I have been contemplating two stanzas in Psalm 50 for several weeks. These verses appear in the midst of God rebuking Israel.
Psalm 50:14-15, 23
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;
to one who orders his way rightly
I will show the salvation of God!
These few verses contain difficult truth for anyone going through any kind of suffering. These last few weeks I have struggled with recurring anger and depression concerning my recent divorce. Not overwhelming, not constant, but it just keeps coming back, in spite of the fact that I am happy with where my life is going. As these verses kept coming to mind, I looked at them intellectually. I thought, “I’ve got this lesson.” Thanking God became an integral part of my life years ago; I have a list of blessings, big and small, that I thank God for in the back of my journal that I add to daily. But these verses carry that concept to a deeper level. And when you add Romans 5:1-5 into the mix, it becomes profound.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
I was walking a couple of days ago, with all of these thoughts and emotions and verses swirling around in my head, and an old lesson came to mind. Years ago, when I was going through the process of dealing with the abuse I suffered as a child, there were many times I could not control my thoughts or my emotions. These episodes were attacks from what I called my beast, the beast in my head that whispered lies to me – lies about myself, about God, about reality. I am not one to see Satanic attack behind every difficulty in life, but I believe there was an element of that involved too. I learned to battle those attacks with Scripture, the only thing I knew was absolutely always true. The Truth of God’s Word became my weapon and my protection, and I carried it in my back pocket so I could pull it out and read it at any time. I have done that ever since.
As I walked, it came together in my head. Sacrifice of thanksgiving. Rejoice in suffering. The Word of God. And I realized the recurring emotions concerning the divorce must be dealt with in the same way as those recurring thoughts, memories, and emotions of the abuse. But in addition to the Word of God, and thanking God for what I considered blessings, there is something much deeper and much harder. Sacrifice of thanksgiving. Rejoice in suffering. Not just rejoicing after the fact, but rejoicing in the midst of suffering. Not just thanking God for what I like and appreciate, but in a sacrificial way, in a way that costs me something. Thanking Him for the suffering itself. Not because I am a masochist, but because I trust God to glorify Himself and to work for my ultimate good.
In the midst of my suffering, I thank God for that suffering.
In the midst of my suffering, I fulfill my vow to God when I continue to do what God tells me to.
When I call on God in my suffering, He will rescue me – but maybe not in the way I desire.
And in the end, I will glorify Him, which is my highest and best good,
better than what I desire in that moment of suffering.
Offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifies God,
rejoicing in suffering glorifies God, and fulfills my vow.
I must order my way rightly,
seek first the Kingdom of God, not my own desires,
And I will see salvation, I will spend eternity in Heaven with God.
So I thank God. Not just for my children, who are my greatest earthly blessing. Not just for the future that I am excited about. Not just for my life that I enjoy. But even for the divorce that pushed me here.
©Rebecca A Givens, 3/28/16
I don’t usually post twice in one day (or even week, or sometimes month), but the next post, Sacrifice of Forgiveness really should be read now.