Old man, sitting near the sea. Reading a book

Are You Seeking Comfort or Character?

It’s a been a very expensive day and I’m not happy about it. As I sit and reflect, I want to share something with you. This has been a time of growth for me, because even six months ago I would’ve been very angry and upset about all the expenses I’m faced with. But today I decided to choose gratitude for God’s help.

You need to understand, I don’t have money for these new expenses. My car tire had a slow leak due to a nail in it. I was angry, but I chose to thank God that I was able to take care of the flat. Unfortunately, I also found out that one of the nut bolts on that tire was stripped. Yet another major expense.

Then I went to the doctor (which I hate doing) because of serious issues I’ve been experiencing in my right ear for some time. She prescribed me a whole bunch of expensive medication. Again, I thanked God, this time for a medical system that allows us see physicians and get the medication we need.

How did I manage to thank God for my troubles? Because I saw that they are making me grow. It’s taken a long while to get to this place of gratitude. In Scripture we are exhorted to be thankful in all circumstance, thankful for all our trials and tribulations. I can now actually do that with faith. Amazing!

I have been in a season of deep suffering for nearly 11 years. This includes a broken marriage, health issues, and losing my financial security. My journey has been one of unbearable heartache and pain. It is not yet resolved, but having gratitude in the midst of my troubles is a way of exercising the Holy Spirit’s power in my life. When I continue to live in a place of gratitude, I allow the Holy Spirit to build my character, and that in the end will equate to untold blessings in Heaven.

The Deep Spiritual Meaning of Suffering and Gratitude

So often we are so unhappy about our circumstances. You may be asking: “How is it possible to be thankful for hardships?” For me, it comes down to a two major factors: having lived with deep pain for a very long time, and believing Scripture while choosing to be thankful in ALL THINGS – including trials and tribulations.

Our pain and suffering builds character. What we do with our character here on earth is going to translate into the next life—eternity. I am convinced our suffering is not just about how we deal with it here on earth. It is also for the afterlife. I believe we start in Heaven where we have left off from here. And therefore, thankfulness in trials has deep meaning and spiritual significance. Our suffering allows us to help and encourage others. I cannot begin to tell you the times my suffering has helped me be there for others in pain.

Don’t for a moment think I sit here all day rejoicing in pain. I’m human and I push back a lot. But this season of gratitude, despite all I lack, is what keeps me going on the right track.

The other day I pulled out my journal and penned four pages of things I am thankful for. It amazed me! When we look at all we have to be thankful for, we’ll see our troubles actually fade. I’m not minimizing pain, just suggesting there is more goodness in our lives than we take note of. Blessings are not always tangible goods. A blessing might be having a great chat with a dear friend.

As I take the road of gratitude in my sufferings, my perspective changes, I feel lighter and depression fades. I still hurt, but I see the good in my life. The Apostle Paul is likely the best example of one who was thankful in all circumstances. This man’s life was a mess when it came to pain, hardships, and suffering. Yet he rejoiced in his trials. How can one rejoice when put in jail unjustly? It was the joy that was set before him. Similarly, the joy that was set before Jesus was looking to sitting at the right hand of God after his suffering.

Are you Living for This World or for Heaven?

How many Christians think this life is the one that counts? They acquire a lot of stuff in life to achieve comfort. Isn’t that backwards? God cares far more for our character than our comfort. He is more concerned with what we do with our life for eternal purposes. This world is not our home. We are passing through. So why not work hard on character issues, which begins with a heart of gratitude. This is lasting. This will be translated into the next life. Our short time here does not compare to what we will see and taste and enjoy in Heaven.

I had it all. I had a house, a blissful marriage, health, and an early retirement plan. My wife and I had a six-digit income. We enjoyed tropical trips a few times a year. I felt I was rich. Then I lost it all.

Today I am in a dire financial place. I do not take any trips. I am 52 years old and retirement is not looking good. I have health issues that concern me greatly. I have lost family and friends. I even lost my church after my separation. I am poor in many respects. Do I enjoy this? Not at all. It sucks. But is my character deeper and stronger than it was 11 years ago when all was well? Yes, hugely. This is why I am able to be thankful when a tire goes flat and I cannot afford it, or my health fails me but I have the luxury of seeing a doctor who prescribes medication to help me.

Can I ask you? Are you thankful in all circumstances–the bad, the ugly and the hard things in life? Can you find gratitude for the pain you are in, seeing the way it helps others? Are you building gratitude for the next life?

Pray this:

“Thank you God for all of the many trials you allow in my life, and that you are building a character in me that will last in the next life. In the meantime, use my pain to help others. Thank you for the many gifts and good things you give me, and those things that are intangible.”