The reality of problems

Everyone faces them. When a couple sent their son off to college, their expectations were high, but his grades were low. In a few months, he was kicked out of school. Knowing how disappointed his parents would be, he texted his mother, ?Mom, I flunked all my courses ? kicked out of school. I?m coming home. Prepare Pop.? The next day, she texted back, ?Pop prepared. Prepare yourself.?

We all face problems that can wear us down. Maybe you?ve felt like the lion tamer who put an ad in a show business paper: ?Lion Tamer ? Wants Tamer Lion.?

As you read through the Bible, it?s unlikely to find a person who God greatly used who didn?t face problems and trials. From men like Abraham and Moses and David, to women like Ruth, Rahab or Ether. Each found deliverance and victory because they understood that God was the only one who could help them out of trouble. As King David wrote, ?The righteous cry out and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. God is near to those who have a broken heart and saves those who have a contrite heart. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.? (Psalm 34:17-19)

Our attitude of thanksgiving is simple, an expression of our faith in God. A thankless heart is a doubt-filled heart.

The Bible actually tells us to be thankful when trials come, because we know that God is our deliverer from our troubles, and we will lack for nothing (James 1:4). As highly esteemed as King David was, he faced multiple troubles and setbacks. He was not respected by his own family; his own king was jealous of him and tried to kill him; his wife was embarrassed by his passion for God; and his own son tried to overthrow his kingdom once he became king. But God reminded David, ?Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you will glorify me.?

Thanksgiving is more than a holiday. It?s a weapon of spiritual power to overcome trouble and experience God?s deliverance.

This tradition we call Thanksgiving was birthed out of terrible trials. The Mayflower sailed because those on board believed God was leading them to make the journey. They said, ?We believe and trust the Lord is with us, and that he will graciously prosper our endeavors according the simplicity of our hearts.?

In November of 1620, they dropped anchor in Cape Code near Massachusetts. They were suffering from malnutrition and scurvy, and didn?t have the strength to sail for Virginia. Their original charter did not apply for a new landing site, so they drew up a workable governing document to avoid anarchy. We call it ?The Mayflower Compact.?

William Bradford wrote, ?They fell on their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and mysteries thereof.?

Even in great trial, they were thankful because they looked to God to deliver them. In that first winter, half of them died. In the spring, the Mayflower sailed back to England, but all the pilgrims left stayed behind, believing God would help them and deliver them. An Indian named Squanto came to their aid and taught them how to survive in the wilderness. He also negotiated a treaty of peace with the Indians. It was in the fall of the year that this small number of survivors, even with grief of losing loved ones, chose to celebrate a feast of thanksgiving.

The Mayflower Compact?s opening words set the tone: ?In the name of God. Amen.? Presidents throughout our history have issued Proclamations of Thanksgiving, reminding us that faith is always thankful, believing in God to help and deliver and save.

This Thanksgiving, we should do no less. It is an act of our faith that God is our help and will deliver us from trouble. ?We are bound to thank God always, because your faith grows exceedingly.? (2 Thess. 1:3)