How to Be Thankful All the Time
Ways you can be thankful even when life is difficult
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
As a young Christian, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 always disturbed me. It never made sense why I should be thankful for things that did not seem good to me. However, as we grow spiritually, God’s greater purpose of developing character in our life will become clear, and generally character has to be developed through difficult trials. The problem is that we want to have a life without any problems, but that is not possible. There will always be difficult moments, and if we have not learned how the greater purposes of God are being worked into our life, then we may become unthankful and angry towards God.
So, why should we be thankful for something that seems to be hurting us?
Well, James 1:2-4 says, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
It is through trials that God develops endurance and patience in a believer. The encouragement is simple – be patient in the trial so that God’s perfect work can be developed in our life. The trial is God’s tool. Trials may be big, small, difficult, easy, financial, emotional, or relational. So, God encourages us to "rejoice," or be thankful, in those difficult moments. It is one of God’s ways of teaching us to see Him working in our life. Expressing thankfulness says to Him “Father, we deeply appreciate that you are developing spiritual character in our life.” The word for “rejoice” means to “jump for joy” and to be exceedingly thankful for something. So, the problem is how to be thankful for something that I am not enjoying.
What does the word “thankful” actually mean?
The word “thankful” means being grateful and expressing appreciation to someone for what they are doing for us. However, we must learn to be very thankful to God for all of the trying and difficult moments that He allows in our life. Through every one of those trials, God will be faithful to develop His spiritual character in our life. As we look back on those difficult moments, we will see what He was doing – even though it was not clear to us when we were going through the trial.
We have some friends who just lost their young four year old son to a terrible sickness. How can anyone say that is good? It is in those moments that God is asking us to trust Him in the very deepest way. In a way that we cannot see, God will be glorified as we trust Him and express our thankfulness for His great love and faithfulness. This young family learned to love someone in a way that they never dreamed possible. Their love for their young son has been so inspirational, and they know their son is now safely in the arms of Jesus. Even though they would have wanted their little boy to live, they would not have traded their time with him for anything in the world. Their ability to love with the love of Christ Himself has been overwhelming, and because they are thankful for God’s hand in all of their trials, their testimony for Christ is as rich and as deep as anyone could ever have. May God help us all to be thankful in all things!
Pray this week:
Father, will you please help me not to become bitter or resentful when very difficult trials come into my life? Will you work in me in such a way that I learn how to be thankful for what You are allowing to happen in my life, even when I do not understand why or even what the purpose is for my life?
Are you willing to make a list of all of the different things in your life for which you have not been thankful, and then place them at the throne of God and give Him thanks for His greater and deeper work in your life?