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    You Want Me to Be Thankful for What?!

    A few days ago, I got an important-sounding text message from a parent regarding how her daughter, a student in our youth group, was feeling. The student opted not to go to school because she was feeling weary—not just physically tired, but mentally and emotionally exhausted as well.

    The text I received was from the parent asking if I knew what her daughter meant by “weary,” and since I’d just spoken to the girl about this on the previous night, I called the parent back to explain the little bit that I knew. A few minutes into the conversation, things had melted into a hot mess; the parent was upset and nearly crying, feeling hurt that her daughter has such a difficult time opening up to her and a little frustrated that she opens up to me.

    I was in the middle of a “no-win” situation. Anything I said only seemed to make things worse. A few times it seemed like the parent was raising her voice to me, and I had to force myself to stay calm and be patient—there was pain there, and getting mad wasn’t going to help. I got off the phone a little while later, close to tears myself.

    Am I supposed to be thankful that God allowed me to endure that? I felt like I was being attacked for doing something wrong, only I hadn’t done anything wrong! How am I supposed to be thankful for that?

    Do you ever have situations like that? In Christianity we call them “trials.” You know if you have. They’re the days when everything is going wrong, you’re getting blamed for something you didn’t do, your brothers or sisters are working hard to destroy your last bit of patience, etc.

    So how are we to respond to situations like that?

    Well, Romans 12:9-14 gives some good guidelines for our responses:

    Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with those who are in heed. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (NIV)

    Girls, I’m not even going to try to say the conversation with this parent didn’t bother me; it did. In fact, it troubled me for several days. Some things just aren’t easy to shake off. Even in the midst of dealing with these things, however, we can still be thankful for what God is teaching us or building in us. God may be planning something that you haven’t even thought of.

    In my case, God was continuing to build patience and love for others in my heart, and He also did something unexpected!

    God created an opportunity for my husband, David, to stand up and fight on my behalf. He didn’t do anything crazy, but because this conversation was causing so much grief in my heart, David approached the parent without my knowledge and spoke up for me. He let her know that I was hurting over the conversation, spoke to her lovingly about the way she had handled the conversation and asked her to please approach me to reconcile.

    I only found out about it later, but in 10 years of marriage, David had never done anything like that and I’d never felt as loved as I did when I found out what he’d done.

    The point is that there’s always something to be thankful for, even in the most difficult circumstances. I know it’s hard to see sometimes, but it’s always there. The disciples Peter and John were even thankful the first time they were beaten for preaching the gospel. Acts 4:41 says, “they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.”

    Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –1 Thessalonians 5:18

    Girls, how can you be thankful in your current circumstances?

    More Stories Like This on Project Inspired:

    Are You Focusing on God’s Small Answers?
    How Do You Celebrate When God Answers Your Prayers?
    What Does Having Courage REALLY Mean?

    Jenn Arman
    Jenn Arman is a youth pastor, freelance writer and blogger. She was born in San Diego, California and raised 2 hours north east in the Inland Empire where she lives with her husband David and their cats. Jenn desires to bring glory to God and a healthy dose of reality to Christians through both writing and preaching. Visit jenniferarman.com for more on her work. You can also connect with her on www.facebook.com/JenniferArman.Writer and https://twitter.com/JennArman

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