Thankfulness in the Hard Times?
One example of thankfulness in the Bible is that of the leper in Luke 17. It is a great reminder to be thankful to God for our blessings. But then it is not all that difficult to be thankful when things are going right. The former leper’s horrible disease was removed from his body. He could now live a long life, go back to his family, friends, home and work. Of course he was happy and thankful. But where does thankfulness fit in when we are in a situation where our disease can’t be removed, we can’t be with a friend or family member anymore, or situations in our life have left us without a home or job? Why do we need thankfulness just as much during those difficult times as we do when things are going right? And how do we get it when things seem so dark and hopeless?
We need thankfulness in hard times because it will help us get through them. Being thankful won’t end the problems we are facing but it will give us an eternal perspective on what is happening and help us to remain faithful. When we are thankful to someone we humble ourselves before them. When we are down on our knees humbly thanking our God we see that we are not in control. This takes some of the burden and sometimes even guilt from our shoulders. We don’t have to and often can’t fix everything. But God knows what we need and He knows how things will work out in the end. (Jeremiah 29:11) This humbleness allows us to rely on him and strengthens our relationship with Him. When we rely on Him we learn to trust that He will be there for us. (Psalm 9:10) When we trust God we give him our anxieties. (1 Peter 5:7) When we aren’t shouldering all the burdens and anxieties ourselves and we trust the assurance from God that things will work for good (Romans 8:28) then we have hope.
How do we find thankfulness when there seems so little to be thankful for? Look for the good and find it. Easier said than done, right? Getting oneself into the mindset of looking for the good can be the hardest part. We have to look hard in the darkness to see a little light. But just like being in a very dark room when we finally find a little light you are drawn to it and you are thankful that it is there and you want more. Find that light, find the good. With the good comes thankfulness and all the good things that come with a thankful attitude.
Lean on God. You don’t have to understand everything but you can lean on one who does.
Follow the example of Jesus. It is hard to put ourselves on the same level as our Savior who willingly went to the cross for us, but we can learn much from His suffering that can help us through ours. We can be thankful for a loving Savior that can understand our trials. (Hebrews 4:15) He showed us it is possible to make it through the trials, and that we are not truly alone in our suffering.
Thankfulness might not be something we consider as much when we are going through trials. But it is something that God says we should have. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Some versions say “in all circumstances”. But don’t stop with the first part of the verse; it is the will of God that we be thankful. Why? Because it will help us. A thankful attitude helps us rely on Him and trust Him; it brings us closer to Him and gives us hope. God is faithful and he is loving (Deuteronomy 7:9). He will help us through. Thanks be to God for that.