There is a season for everything, but every season is right to give thanks. In fact, we are called to have a thankful heart, even in the small details of life.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Being Thankful in Hard Times
A couple of days ago I was overwhelmed by the deep hurt and pain that many people around the world are going through. Many deaths, disagreements, and despair. I acknowledge that there is a time for everything… but how am I to be thankful for this much sorrow? I am definitely not the first one to ask this question. From an outside perspective it might seem kind of crazy, and even selfish, to be thankful for sorrow. But we are not called to be thankful for everything, but in everything. It is during rough times that we are given the beautiful opportunity to draw even closer to Christ as our faith is tested. In times of sorrow, we can be thankful for who God is. He is our comfort, our guide, and our provider. He gives us the assurance that our hope is not found on anything from this earth, but only from him. In him is where we find justice. In him we find a constant Father and friend. In him we are encouraged and strengthened to keep persevering through hardships. Yes, we experience pain. And yes, God cares for us even in those moments. Take these as opportunities to know God’s heart for you in a deeper way. And even when it seems that things do not go our way, we get to trust in a God who says that all things work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28).
Thankfulness aligns our hearts to what really matters—what is eternal. It allows us to recognize that we truly are dependent on God alone. It strengthens us in him.
John Piper once quoted, “God is more glorified in us when we are more satisfied in him.” I find this to be true in Paul’s life. While he is in prison, he writes his more joyful letter to the church at Philippi. How is he able to do that? He starts by giving thanks (Philippians 1:3) and ends by encouraging us to give thanks (Philippians 4:6).
Paul gives thanks, not for his chains, but because even in them, the Gospel is proclaimed and “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Paul is thankful even during hardships.
Being Thankful in Good Times
We should be careful during the good times. Let us not stumble and think that our merits and recognitions come from ourselves. Yes, we might work hard and sacrifice many things, yet we cannot forget that God is the one who gives us the ability to work hard. It is important to acknowledge our hard work and discipline (and let’s do so!), but we should do it with a thankful heart so that we are not tempted to boast in our limited and fragile selves who will eventually fail. Rather, we should boast in the Lord, who is our almighty creator.
God’s heart for us is so much bigger than simply giving us a comfortable life. He wants us to become people who impact the world for the sake of his kingdom—this has a more lasting impact, an eternal impact. Not so that we might boast, but so that we might learn to be fully satisfied in him.
Enjoy the details of life like spending time with Jesus, having a good conversation with a friend, drinking your favorite drink, getting to do what you like, working out, going to new places, etc. Find beauty in the ordinary and be thankful for it!! Do not take these for granted, because surely they are not.
Being thankful in every circumstance will allow us to see life how God designed it to be. Be thankful for the details, for his truth, and for his presence!!! We can give thanks for the fact that we can talk to him and give him thanks, for the air we breathe, for the people that care for us, and the list can go on.
My prayer for us is that we might not be too proud to miss the beauty of who he is and what he has given us, that we might be brave and full of faith to give thanks in every circumstance. I pray that biblical truth changes our perspective. Do you really believe in who he says HE is? Do you know who he says he is?
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” 1 Chronicles 16:34 (ESV)