To be thankful only for our comforts is to make an idol of this life. “God-sent afflictions,” says Maurice Roberts, “have a health-giving effect upon the soul” because they are the medicine used to purge the soul of self-centeredness and this world’s vanities. Pain, in other words, sharpens us, matures us, and gives us clear “eye-sight.” Pain transforms us like nothing else can. It turns us into “solid” people. Roberts continues, “Those who have been in the crucible have lost more of their scum.” All of this should cause us to be deeply thankful.
It has been said that restlessness (pain) is the second best thing because it leads us to the Best Thing (God). It is only when we come to the end of ourselves that we come to the beginning of God. And it is only when we come to the beginning of God that we come to the beginning of life. The paradox of Christianity is, in the words of Jesus, that if you want to find your life, you must lose it (Matt. 10:39).
In the world’s economy, life precedes death; in God’s economy, death precedes life. The cross always precedes the crown; desperation always precedes deliverance. The good news, and the thing that should cause us to be both supremely thankful and hopeful, is this: When we lose one home, we secure another. Thank God!
– From the sermon Being Thankful for Pain, by Tullian Tchividjian