Like most families, during this season of Thanksgiving our family would make lists of things we were thankful for in our lives. As we sat at the table we shared our lists which included family, jobs, friends, food and housing, happy events, God’s love for us, His provision and His salvation. It is always good to spend this time giving thanks for all the gracious benefits and comforts God has given to us in our lives.
But often we are missing one of the fruits of thankfulness on our lists. We don’t add the difficult things to our list of thanks. Wouldn’t that be strange to thank God for the difficulties and hardships in our lives? Who does that? Yet, when we only thank God for the good in our lives and not the difficult things we miss out on having a true thankful heart. We miss out on acknowledging the character of God – He is good, loving, kind, patient and totally in control no matter the circumstance.
Paul, a follower of Jesus, who had been beaten, imprisoned, stoned and suffered for his belief in Jesus wrote,
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
“always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” Ephesians 5:20
Even Daniel, a servant of God, who when he heard that a law had been passed to persecute those who prayed to and worshipped God instead of King Darius, responded with thanks to God:
“But when Daniel learned that the law had been signed, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs room…He prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God.” Daniel 6:10
Grateful people are those who can be thankful in all circumstances. I have met very few who can do that. And most of those were believers overseas living in difficult conditions with little freedoms and great persecution. Yet, they were glad to praise and thank God in all their circumstances.
It seems unthinkable to be thankful for the difficulties and sufferings in our lives. But it is during those times that we can come to know first-hand the kindness, mercy, love, goodness and sovereignty of God. Then, by faith in God’s character, we can be thankful knowing there is a bigger picture and purpose in our small world of pain and hurt. As I desire to abide with Christ and be more like Him, He will produce the fruit of thankfulness in my life. He desires for me to be thankful for everything.
Are you going through a difficult time? Perhaps you are suffering and hurting. You can be thankful that there is a loving, merciful, wise, all knowing God who sees your pain, cares for you and has a plan. It takes faith to thank God during those times. He will give you that faith if you ask.
This Thanksgiving, when I make that list I will be thankful for all that I have and don’t have, for the good and also the challenges and difficulties in my life. What will you include on your list? I desire to say as David said,
“I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak His praises.” Psalm 34:1