How do you feel about being thankful? If you find gratitude a tough thing to embrace these days, I understand. After all, we’ve been through some hard years, both as a nation and individually.
But you know what? It really doesn’t matter if things are going well or things are going badly for us. That’s because God has given us a crazy little thing called “being thankful,” which will pull us out of even the deepest ditch and put us on the road to joy and peace.
Now, you might say, “Pastor Jeff, you don’t know my situation and how desperate I really am. There’s hardly anything to be thankful for.” If that’s the case, I’d like to share with you how another desperate man enlisted God’s help in getting out of a pit of despair.
That man is David and he says in Psalm 69, “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched.” He goes on: “Those who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head.” That’s a lot of people hating one person! And even his family can’t stand him, since he confesses, “I have become estranged from my brothers and an alien to my mother’s sons.” David feels about as low as anyone I’ve ever heard of, and he has no one to comfort him.
So what does he do? It’s something totally crazy: He gives thanks! Of course, thanking God when things are going well is easy. We can all do that. But I want to share with you three good reasons why you’ll want to give thanks even when things are awful.
The first is that being thankful will keep you from getting bitter. I’m convinced that bitterness is the sin of all sins in the church. It’s like an infestation of termites that will just chew away at the fabric of your life and your relationship with God. And you can’t judge God based on your current hell. You judge God based on a hill called Calvary, where Christ bled and died for you because He loves you so much!
The second reason is that being thankful pleases God and gives Him glory. I have a friend suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease who can’t move anything except her eyes. But she has such a heart for the Lord and I’m amazed at how she continually thanks and praises God. Her gratitude in the midst of pain shows others that God is real!
Now the third reason to give thanks is being thankful delivers you from pain and anxiety. What I’ve found is that sometimes God calms the storm and sometimes He calms His child. But either way, He’s going to bring the calm you long for! So take Paul’s words to heart: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).
So are you looking for joy and peace today? Grab a pen and paper and write down 10 things you’re thankful for. I promise, you can do it! Now, pray and thank God for each thing on your list. Do this every day for a week and see if God doesn’t bless you with the joy and peace you’re looking for.