Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:20
Frankly, sometimes I don't feel very thankful. Yet as God's children, we are to thank Him all the time for everything. But there are some very bad things that happen to the child of God: sickness, sorrow, disappointment, death, divorce, etc.
Why does God allow these things, and how can we possibly give Him thanks always and for all things?
The Sin Factor
First, we must remember that we live in a world that is cursed with sin and filled with sorrow. Romans 8:22 says, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain...." Natural disasters are results of sin's curse.
Our bodies also bear a curse. We are "the children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). Romans 5:12 says, "...by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin...." Everyone of us have a terminal illness; we're headed for death. Our physical frailties are reminders of this curse.
This is not the world God created it to be; it has been marred by sin. But we can thank God that one day He will create a new heaven and a new Earth. The curse will be undone, and creation will be delivered.
The Chastisement Factor
We may, in difficult times, find ourselves under the chastening hand of God. Hebrews 12:5-6 teaches, "...My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,...For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."
His chastening doesn't mean He doesn't love us; it means that He loves us too much to let us get away with sin. At times like that, we ought to thank Him.
The Dependence Factor
In his book Crowded to Christ, Dr. L.E. Maxwell proposes that God gives us problems so we will depend on Him.
For example, Paul asked God to remove his "thorn in the flesh." (2 Corinthians 12:8). God answered in verse nine: "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Then Paul stated, "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me...." If our troubles cause us greater dependency, we thank God.
The Maturity Factor
God teaches us great lessons and matures us during difficult times. Psalm 119:67 says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word."
Romans 8:28-29 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." And His purpose is for us "to be conformed to the image of His Son...." If affliction causes us to mature spiritually, then we can thank God for it.
The Patience Factor
Could it be that God is simply working patience in us? Psalm 27:14 says, "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart...."
Sometimes, we ask, "Why doesn't God do something?" But God might be doing something by not doing anything else. If God is teaching us the virtue of patience, shouldn't we thank God?
The Ministry Factor
When bad things happen, they may enable us to minister to others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 states, "Blessed be...the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God."
I've seen Joyce comfort women who have lost a baby because we've been through that. If we experience tribulation, then we should give God thanks for making us usable.
The Glory Factor
Somehow, when we suffer and yet praise God; it gives Him glory. 1 Peter 4:12-13 states, "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you…. But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy...."
Stephen was not delivered from being stoned for his faith (Acts 7). But to this day, we are talking about his faith and how God's glory was all over him. If God is being glorified in our lives, we should praise Him.
The Mystery Factor
We may never understand why some things happen, but God is sovereign. In Isaiah 55:8, God says, "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD."
Sometimes, we feel that God owes us an explanation; but if God loved us enough to send His Son to die for us on the cross, we never have to doubt His love. We can trust God and obey Him — regardless of the circumstances or consequences.
Real faith is not primarily receiving from God what we want, but it is accepting what He gives. He is good and faithful. So thank Him and praise Him anyway.