Having the Attitude of Thankfulness
in these Times of Crisis
By Pastor Rene Ely
“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)
For those of us in Christ Jesus, our living testimony each day should be that of thankfulness for we have a living hope deeply grounded in the Gospel that saved us and reconciled us to God. It is a reality that the practice of thankfulness can be more challenging when we are in the midst of crisis, pain or suffering but it is precisely in such times that we choose God-honoring responses by doing His will of developing thankful attitudes.
Paul tells us, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). When Paul wrote this epistle, the Thessalonian believers were facing severe persecution. They were greatly afflicted and were tempted to complain and be disheartened. Paul wrote to encourage them to continue to grow in godliness and to be grateful to God despite their condition. Paul is saying that we have to be thankful to God in spite of our circumstances.
We should learn to be thankful not only for the good gifts that God gives us but for everything in our lives, including our trials and sufferings. Job reminded us “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). So we can be grateful even in grief, pain and difficulties since we have a God who allows these things to happen to accomplish His divine will and purposes.
Paul is saying that thankfulness is our appropriate response in all the circumstances that we have whether good or bad from our perspective because God ordains all things. “For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” and pleases Him that we manifest gratitude whatever circumstance that He allows.
Brethren, let us open the treasures of God’s Word to remind us of the many biblical reasons why it is God-honoring to have the attitude of thankfulness in whatever circumstances we have in life:
We can be thankful because we know that our God sovereignly ordains all things according to His will.
We exalt God’s sovereignty as we choose to be thankful knowing that He uses times of crisis and struggles to mature us in our faith as we grow more in Christlikeness. James calls us to, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
We exalt God’s sovereignty as we choose to be thankful knowing that in whatever circumstances we are facing right now, we have the assurance that God will accomplish His wise and divine purposes in and through us. Paul exhorts us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
We can be thankful even in the midst of our most trying times because we know that in Christ we have a blessed hope.
We can thank God and look beyond our present circumstances because of the truth that these are light and momentary troubles compared to the glory of what is to come “For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:17-18).
Peter was referring to Christ who has caused us to be born again to a living hope through His resurrection which should be the basis of our rejoicing and thankfulness to God in spite of our trying condition. “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3, 6-7)
We can be thankful even in the midst of this crisis because of the certainty of our salvation in Christ through the gospel.
Those who are redeemed by Christ can rejoice knowing that nothing can snatch us from God’s hands “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
We should be eternally grateful to God knowing that no present or future circumstances can separate us from God’s love that was displayed by Jesus in dying on the cross in order to redeem us and save us from our sins. “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
In conclusion, I encourage you brethren to focus on our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our best example of having a thankful heart.
John Bloom shared this beautiful insight: On the night before He suffered and died on the cross Jesus took the bread and the cup and gave thanks (Luke 22:19-20). He gave thanks for the bread which symbolized His body that will be severely broken, the cup which symbolized His blood that will be spilled in order that undeserving sinners receive forgiveness for their sins and made righteous before God through His sacrifice and death on the cross… More than enduring the cross, He was able to thank the Father because He saw the grace and the glory that was coming because of the cross. It is His future joy that fueled his thankful endurance. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
We look to our Lord in these trying times reflecting the blessed hope and glorious salvation we have because of our union with Him. These should fuel our hearts to thankful praises to God, “Through Jesus then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15).
Beloved Brethren, let us then choose to be thankful for we are never out the sight of our triune God and we can rest in knowing that “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” (Ephesians 1:11). God bless you all!