January 9

We give thanks to God because He is worthy of all praise, and we have received everything from Him.

But, do you thank God for those who have wronged you?

I’m not saying to pray something like, “Thank you, God, for this person who tried to ruin my life,” but something more along the lines of thanking Him for His will being done in your life through that person. The sovereign will of God is in full force regardless if the circumstances are what you want them to be, or if people treated you well.

  • For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.—Philemon 1:15-16

Here we see Paul appeal to Philemon to accept Onesimus back because Paul is assuming that God’s sovereign will in this case was that Onesimus disobediently and theftuously ran away from Colossae (1,754 miles away in present-day Turkey) and ended up in Rome, a city of about 5 million people, and then in contact with Paul just so he could get saved and be sent back to Philemon spiritually free.

We see this same story throughout history.

Years ago in my church in Virginia, Steve Saint and Mincaye came and spoke in our Sunday School class. The amazing story here is that Steve Saint’s father, Nate, had been murdered by that same Mincaye who was accompanying him to church that day. You see, back in 1956 Jim Elliot, Nate Saint and three other missionaries were attempting to evangelize the Huaorani people in the jungles of Ecuador. The tribe murdered all five missionaries (they were known as a vicious tribe back then). But, God chose to save them and about 2 years later Jim Elliot’s wife, Elisabeth, along with Nate’s sister, Rachel, went back as missionaries to that same tribe, most of which later received Christ—all because of five missionaries who were murdered and because Elisabeth and Rachel demonstrated and taught them true Christian forgiveness!

  1. For Thankful Thursday, think about how God weaves the tapestry of life together for His will and purposes, and thank Him now that He is intimately involved in each and every part of your life. Write down some areas where God’s sovereignty has spoken to you recently: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Whether you know whyGod allowed people in your life to wrong you, thank Him now that His purposes are in place and that His will has been done in both your life as well as in those who have wronged you.
  3. What impact has these peoples’ trespasses against you had to the furtherance of the Gospel? (By the way, Jim Elliot also had a passion for more Christians to become missionaries, yet it was his martyrdom, rather than his life, that inspired many to join up and reach the world 60+ years ago): ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    1. Thank God now for these opportunities to raise up God’s Good News!
  4. Lastly, no matter what happens to us, our lives are but a vapor (James 4:14), and are thus not that important in the scheme of things. Thank God even when despitefully used, abused, wronged by others, and persecuted.
    1. If the world hears us whining and complaining about how such and such did this or that against us, then we have merely exalted ourselves as if life exists for us and as if God doesn’t even exist.
    2. But, if we proclaim to the world that God is glorified even in our being abused, and if we proclaim His glorious Gospel to those abusing us (like in yesterday’s video clip), then we’ve proclaimed Him as Lord and have taken the focus off of ourselves, wherein the world will say to us, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus” (John 12:21).