What do you think is the hardest commandment in the Bible? It may be this:
“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” Ephesians 5:20.
But it may bring the greatest blessing. When you come to the place where you can thank God for all things, it will get you through life’s hardest seasons.
WHEN Should We Give Thanks?
God daily loads us with a wagonload of blessings. Blessings never cease; therefore, thanksgiving should never cease. One “Thanksgiving Day” a year is not enough. Every day, every prayer ought to be mixed with thanksgiving.
“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.” (Psalm 68:19) And,
“…His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23)
“Giving thanks always…”
WHY We Give Thanks
If you ask God for more blessings and don’t thank Him for what He’s already done for you…what does God think of you? Romans 1:21 tells us.
“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
This passage speaks of unbelievers, not God’s children. But if you are a child of God, how much worse if you’re not thankful to the One Who redeemed you with His blood?
Clearly, God ranks thankfulness high on His list of what He desires from every person.
- Acknowledge His eternal power and Godhead
- Glorify Him as God
- Be thankful
WHAT to Be Thankful For?
The simple things.
Fresh, sparkling water to drink, a roof over your head. Even dirty dishes. They indicate you just had a meal! Many in our world would thank God for dirty dishes.
The sorrowful things.
Can you thank Him for heartaches? When you hurt, when problems are so deep, God alone knows the depth. When Paul was languishing in prison, unjustly accused of starting a riot, he wrote our passage, “Give thanks to God for all things.”
WHY Should We Give Thanks?
Because God rules over all. We are beneath the overruling hand of God.
No matter what happens, you are to have a song in your heart. Now you’re asking, “I’m to give thanks for rape? Murder? Disease? Cancer? These things are good? Am I to give God thanks for that?”
I’m not telling you these things are good. These things are bad. I’m telling you that God is good. And where God does not rule, God overrules. With the chemistry of the Cross, God takes all things and works them together for good to those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Trouble may correct us.
Trouble is a built-in correcting ministry. Sometime we need correcting. Have you ever been brought in for a talking-to by a principal, teacher, or coach when their correcting words were what you needed?
“Now no chastening [discipline, correction] seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” Hebrews 12:11.
King David wrote: “Before I was afflicted, I went astray: but now have I kept Thy word” Psalm 119:67. Note the progression: going astrayàafflictionàobedience.
If we didn’t have troubles, we would stray from God. Suffering and pain sometimes correct us. We should thank God for them.
Trouble brings greater dependence on God
Without trouble, why would we need God in our lives? Trouble moves us toward Christ.
The apostle Paul, the greatest Christian (other than Jesus) who ever lived, suffered from a thorn in the flesh he asked God to remove. God answered, “I’m not going to take it away. I’m going to give you added strength.”
Paul didn’t respond, “What can’t be cured must be endured,” but “Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me…” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Paul says, “God, in His love to me, gave me a thorn in the flesh that I might
- see my weakness,
- depend upon Him, and
- learn His strength.
Suffering, if we are humble enough and willing to enlist it for His glory, will cause us to have greater dependence upon God.
Trials confirm your testimony and silence Satan.
When you go through suffering yet exhibit faith, others will be strengthened in their faith.
When we endure suffering and come out on the other side still praising God, we shut the devil’s mouth and take the wind out of Satan’s sails. The things that happened to Paul “…have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him but also to suffer for His sake” (v.29).
When we go through heartbreak and disappointment and still serve God, it confirms our testimony in the Lord.
Trouble will bring you to deeper maturity and Christ-likeness.
God’s priority for you is not health and wealth but spiritual maturity, to make you like the Lord Jesus Christ.
“But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect [mature] and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:4
Affliction can be a wonderful teacher. David confessed, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes” (Psalm 119:71).
God is aiming at maturing you. How is He going to do this? Through patience (endurance) as we bear up under suffering. When you endure, you become mature.
We never really look up till we get on our back; we never really see until our eyes have been washed with tears.
Trouble will bring the excelling glory of God in your life.
We say, “Oh, this is so strange. Why is this happening to me?”
Peter said, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, But rejoice (be thankful) inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings” (having fellowship with Christ), “that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified” 1 Peter 4:12-14.
A Closing Word to the Hurting Believer
Friend, God will never be more real, more near, or more dear to you than when you are hurting yet thanking Him. It may bring excelling glory in your life, for the more you give God thanks, “the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you.”
As you’ve gone through this study, if you’ve said, “Well, it never explained what I'm going through”… we don’t have to explain it. We don’t live by explanations; we live by promises and commandments. God is sovereign. You can arch the rainbow of Romans 8:28 over whatever is happening:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.”
His purpose is to make you like the Lord Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we say, “God, why don’t You do something?” He may be doing something…making you like Jesus. Listen for that still, small Voice saying, “I’m doing something. You just don’t understand what I am doing.”
When do we give thanks? Always.
What do we thank Him for? All things.
Why? Because He is making us more like Jesus.
If you have the Lord Jesus Christ, you can say this Thanksgiving season,
“Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”
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