Part 8 - "Overcome Or Overwhelmed?"
Thanksgiving has two opposites. First, to not give thanks is the obvious contrast of gratitude held in the heart and expressed with words. However, complaint may be the most stark opposite of thanksgiving as the failure to realize and appreciate God's loving involvement in all things leads to bitter words and their dire consequence…
"I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed" (Psalm 77:3).
For the born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, how we experience life results not from what happens to us, but from how we respond to what happens to us. Certainly we feel the realities of our earthly existence like all other human beings. However, our Lord's presence within us provides the spiritual capacity to overcome rather than to be overwhelmed.
"These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye might have peace. In the world, ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10).
When trouble comes, we naturally respond with anything other than thanksgiving. Thus, we must be supernaturally enabled to offer gratitude rather than complain. The Holy Spirit indwells us for such overcoming. However, we must respond to His moving within us to empower the giving of thanks. We must choose to remember the Scriptural truths that promise God's working in our troubles no less than in our triumphs. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Present with us always; very present with us in trouble. This is truth, this is reality, this is fact. A heart full of such light and led by the Holy Spirit leads to thanksgiving even in difficult circumstances and conditions as we overcome our natural human tendencies. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Conversely, if our initial human response to trouble does not remind us of the opportunity for faith that exists in every challenge, we may join the Psalmist in his sad confession of complaint and an overwhelmed spirit. The choice is ours. The ball is in our court. In trouble, the Spirit of God moves within us to motivate gratitude rather than grumbling. The Word of God beckons us into its holy light that reveals the lovingly involved presence of God in our trial. Our past experience of discovering such Truth to be true calls us to the path of trust that promises, "he that believeth on Him shall not be confounded" (I Peter 2:6). Overcome by thanksgiving, or overwhelmed by complaint? The paths of light and darkness will lie before us in various ways today. Only one offers peace, and even more, the opportunity to honor our Lord by thankfully remembering and affirming that no one has ever trusted the God and Father of our Lord Jesus and been disappointed for doing so. And no one ever will.
"Unto the upright there ariseth a light in the darkness. He is gracious, and righteous, and full of compassion."
"Thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: Thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD."
(II Samuel 22:50-51)
Weekly Memory Verse
"For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10).
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