When making a list of things you’re thankful for, how often do you think of your hardships and give praise? How many times do you consider your job loss, family problems or money stress and say, “Thank you, Jesus”?
Well…almost never, right? The same goes for me.
But this morning, as I was completing Day 15 of the Growing in Gratitude Challenge from Revive Our Hearts, I realized just how much I’d been in the wrong by only giving thanks for the good. Seem strange? Read the challenge with me:
Plenty of occasions exist in life where being thankful is the last thing you feel like doing, where nothing seems good or gratitude-worthy.
Today, I’d like you to make a list of all the difficult things in your life. Spell them out, as detailed as you want. Then use this list as a prompt for giving thanks. That may seem strange—or impossible! We’re not expected to thank God “for” things that are sinful. But we can give thanks “in everything,” knowing that God is still God and He uses all things in this fallen world to accomplish His purposes.
Begin to track the ways that God is using these circumstances in your life. Perhaps they’re causing you to become more dependent on Him, or to call upon Him in prayer, or to exercise faith in His promises. When we call upon our Lord “in the day of trouble” (Psalm 50:15), with minds set on glorifying Him, He does marvelous things in the midst of our pain and sorrow. Thank Him by faith that He can use each of these situations as a means to display His glory.
You see, by making a list of difficult things in my life, I began to see how much shorter this list was than any of the “thankful” lists I’ve made before. This made me recognize that no matter what I’m facing, I’ve got so much more to be grateful for.
Second, I realized that there is so much good in my hardships. When I take my list of negative things–of trials and of circumstances I hate–and then draw out of them all the good things God is doing in my life and in my heart because of them, I cannot help but give thanks. For example, last year I went through a really tough season, and the biggest result of trusting God in that time was finding my whole identity in Jesus Christ for the very first time in my life. I wouldn’t trade that for a thing, and I’m so thankful God allowed me to go through that trial.
What can you be thankful for today that you were ungrateful for yesterday? What good things is God doing in your life, though they be hard? I encourage you to give thanks for those things today, and choose to see the good God is doing in the midst of the bad.