“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name.” Acts 5:41
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year!! The leaves are changing from summer green to a kaleidoscope of colour! Crops are being harvested. Gardens of plenty, or fully stocked grocery store shelves will provide a feast spread on our dining room tables, and we will most likely overindulge in turkey and thanksgiving dinner. Truly we have great reason for thanksgiving! And yet, often material blessings can take our focus off the things that really matter.
I know someone who once said, “I hope to make it to heaven, but just barely.” His hope was to enjoy as many of the pleasures of this world as possible – but to still trust Christ for heaven. In that way, he could enjoy the best of both worlds, he calculated. But that is not the Christianity that the New Testament disciples embraced.
They suffered for the name of Jesus, and they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer! It does not come natural to any of us to be thankful for suffering, and yet, it is in suffering that we experience the truest intimacy with our God. Job responded to the Lord with these words, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” Job knew his God in a new, deep and powerful way, because of the things he had suffered!
Too often, our primary concern lies in making a good living, having nice toys, and laying up a considerable nest-egg for our retirement. And while it is right and proper to be thankful for all the material blessings that we have been given – Jesus is far better than anything earth can offer! Suffering for Jesus delivers greater satisfaction than partying with the world! Our unbelieving neighbours believe that the best this life has to offer is lavish luxury. But what good are earthly luxuries in the light of eternity? May God increasingly enable each of us to live with eternity in view. May our love for the luxuries of earth wane, as our love for our Saviour grows, even through the suffering he allows in our lives. May the wonder of His love, and His great sacrifice for sinners, fill our hearts with gratitude this thanksgiving weekend and always!