When the world seems to be closing in on us, or when we feel like we have our backs up against the wall, giving thanks may be the last thing we would ever think of doing. We may reason, If I am in difficult circumstances, then I have no responsibility or need to be thankful. After all, we are to be thankful for blessings, not difficult circumstances. This reasoning is not correct, however, because all of God’s children need to be thankful.
To be thankful in the midst of difficult times is very hard, yet Paul said, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1 Thessalonians 5:18). How is this possible? Sometimes when we think the situation cannot get any worse, it does! But we must remember that when we belong to and serve God, no situation is hopeless. God’s children can count on His providential care, and His never ending love. In the midst of our difficulties, we sometimes have a sort of spiritual amnesia. We forget all that God has done for us, and the difficulties He has helped us through. The psalmist reminded Israel of his wonderful works that he hath done. For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments (Psalm 78:4-7).
The difficulties most of us have faced pale into insignificance compared to the pain and suffering Job faced. His response to the loss of all of his possessions, and all ten of his children was to worship God. Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:20-21). Job was able to do this because he was a man totally devoted to God. God described him as being a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil (Job 1:8). When the difficult times came, Job was ready to trust in the Lord. He did not understand why he was suffering as he was, but He knew that God is worthy to be praised, even in the midst of the most trying times.
The attitude of gratitude, the spirit of gratefulness, must mark those who would follow the Lord. As Paul and Silas sat in the depths of the jail at Philippi, their feet in the stocks, having been beaten for their testimony of Christ, they prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them (Acts 16:25). They would not allow the circumstances to keep them from offering praise to God. In the midst of so many things we cannot understand or do not like, we must thank Him for those things we can understand, and the blessings He so richly gives us. Looking back, we should thank Him. Looking ahead, we should trust Him. Looking around, we should serve Him. He is worthy of all the praise and thanksgiving we can give Him. – Bob Prichard