Rejoice always, pray continually,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
A slight fender-bender on the way to work,
The washing machine overflows,
Your adult child moves home–again,
The diagnosis is not good,
The bills are more than the paycheck.
Are you irritated when unexpected difficulties pop up? Or do you see them as an opportunity? I want to say I am the latter of the two choices, but in full transparency, I am more often the former. My ideal would be a smooth, no troubles journey through life, no bumps, just smooth sailing. It’s no problem to be thankful for that kind of life, no problem at all.
But, we live in a fallen world, and perfection will ever be attainable here on earth. As Paul, the apostle, says, “Our citizenship is in heaven.” where we will be made perfect. Until then, we will have troubles, and things will go wrong. And each one of those troubles is the time to be thankful. We are not promised smoothing sailing, instead we should expect problems.
James, the half brother of Jesus, says we will have difficulties, and in those difficulties, we should be glad and look at them as blessings. What? Troubles a blessing?
And Paul, who was shipwrecked, beaten, left for dead, abandoned and jailed during his ministry, says, rejoice and be glad at all times, in everything. He wrote those words while chained to a guard. Rejoice in the Lord, always! I Say again, rejoice!
David, who had much to complain about, but instead praised God for his troubles. He was being chased and hunted by the king just because he was good with a slingshot. Yet, David praised God for problems.
And Job, we can’t forget the man whom God allowed to lose everything. Job lost all he had, everything, and then his friends ridiculed him and said it was his fault he had so many problems. At the end of his suffering, Job said he had known God, but in his trials, he had seen God. Job was thankful for his sufferings. They helped him see God, not merely know God.
This kind of thankfulness and gratitude pleases God. It’s easy to be thankful for the good things, and God gives us plenty of those, He lavishes us in grace and mercy every day. But what is our first thought in times of trouble? Is it thankfulness and gratitude?
I’ll be honest, mine is most often grumbling and asking, “why now, why this God?” I’m sure He is sitting on His throne and chuckling, “Because it makes you stronger,” Or, “because I want you to depend on me and not yourself.” It doesn’t matter why what matters is our response.
Why is giving thanks to God in times of trouble and trials the correct response?
Because we are made to worship and give thanks to God. All things are created by God and for Him, and our only answer is “thank you.” We are not made to grumble and complain over His gifts, which includes difficulties and trials. Having a problem giving thanks for everything? Here are three reasons giving thanks in all circumstances is important:
Giving thanks replaces grumbling.
If we are giving thanks and rejoicing even in our difficulty, we are not grumbling and complaining. Paul says in Philippians, “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure children of God…”
If we are children of God–and that is what we are–our response should always be rejoicing.
If you are in the longest line at the grocery store two days before Thanksgiving, give thanks that you can buy food for your family. What if the turkey comes out of the oven overcooked and as dry as a July afternoon? Give thanks that family is near–and pour on more gravy.
If there seems to be no other reason to give thanks in the worst of situations, then give thanks for the salvation that comes from faith in Jesus.
Being thankful reminds us of the blessings big and small.
Giving thanks in times of troubles and trials uncovers the way God blesses us every day in many ways. Our Heavenly Father lavishes us each day with mercy and grace. Sometimes we see His work. Other times it passes without notice.
Stopping amid a lousy day to say, “Thank you, Jesus, for blessings big and small,” changes our focus from the moment to our Maker.
Our eyes are no longer on the problem but on His gifts. Look around, take a moment, and give thanks for the blessings that surround you.
Giving thanks reminds us of the Source of our gratitude.
The Source of the gifts for which we give thanks is God, Our Father, Creator, Sustainer, The Lord Who Saves. There is nothing we have that God did not provide, and for that, we are grateful.
If you have little, it comes from God. If you have much, it is a gift from your Creator. We are not the creators of ourselves; God is. We are not the makers of our eternity; Jesus is. For whether we have little or much, it is a gift of grace. Giving thanks in all things helps us remember who is the source of those gifts.
Can we be truly thankful for everything?
We can become people of gratitude and not complaining.
We can be people who worship the Giver of all things. But it’s a choice.
Being thankful requires a shift in our thinking and remembering how God uses even the worst for His glory.
One of my favorite authors is Corrie Ten Boom. She suffered terribly in German concentration camps and was entitled to be bitter.
Instead, she was always thankful.
In her book, The Hiding Place, she relates the story of an incident that taught her to be grateful in all things.
She and her beloved sister, Betsy, were transferred to the worst prison camp they had seen during their captivity. Upon entering the barracks at Ravensbruck, she found them overcrowded and infested with fleas.
The sisters read that morning from 1 Thessalonians 5 reminding them to rejoice always, pray constantly and give thanks in all circumstances.
Betsy wanted to give thanks that day for every detail of their living conditions. At first, Corrie refused to be thankful for fleas, but Betsy insisted, and Corrie gave in.
Afterward, Corrie recalls that during their stay at that camp, they were able to hold Bible study and prayer meetings openly without problems from the guards. They were left alone because they would not enter the barracks because of fleas.
Today, I pray when a minor irritation arises or plans you made fall apart, or even something worse, you can choose words of praise and thanks, not complaining. I know it’s not easy. Our first instinct is complaining. But I pray that little by little you can be thankful for everything big and small. I pray you can focus on the reason for gratitude–Our God, the source of all things.
“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1)
Father Creator and Giver of all things, thank you, thank you for every detail of our lives, big and small. We know that every trial and every happy moment is part of your design, and brings you glory and praise. We thank you for you are good, and your love endures forever. Amen.