As I write this pastor’s corner, I cannot help but think of all the things that I, along with the staff, by God’s grace, were successful in doing as I pastored members through this year.  When I think of all the challenges people have faced, I can easily see why many people may not have the thanksgiving spirit.  The challenge is God does not allow us to complain (1 Corinthians 10:10; Philippians 2:14-18; Colossians 3:13).  A further challenge is how does He not allow us to complain, but at the same time, He allows so many challenges to come into our lives?

Here is a contrast to bear in mind.  “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17) “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10; NAUS) This thief is also a roaring lion seeking whom to destroy (1 Peter 5:8), and he is relentlessly on the hunt (Revelation 12:10).  Christ uses Satan’s evil nature for a purpose, like in the case of Job, to bless us to become overcomers (Romans 8;37), and then to eternally bless us for accepting His maturation process (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).  This way, no matter what schemes Satan has, eventually we will know them all (2 Corinthians 2:11).  Satan will become irrelevant as we learn to live in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh.

The more in the Spirit we live, “He who is within us becomes greater….” (1 John 4:4).  So, when we are anxious, we know to pray (Philippians 4:4-9).  When we are perplexed, we learn to walk in the light (1 John 1:5-7).  When we are weak, He teaches us to walk in His strength by trusting in His Word.  If we forget His Word, but have taken the time to study it, He brings it back to our remembrance (John 14:26).  So, even though “we are afflicted in every way; but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…”  we live and walk in the spirit (2 Corinthians 4:7-12).  What Satan does for evil, the Lord who reigns turns into good, if we continue to obey Him (Romans 8:28).  This is why James says to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials knowing the testing of your faith produces endurance…, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4).  Remember this only takes place because “those whom the Lord loves He discipline…” (Hebrews 12:7-11).  When we accept His discipline, we bear much fruit (John 15:1-5) and He grants us the desires of our hearts (John15:7-8).  This is why we can rejoice!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11; NIV; Philippians 4:8-9)