By David Ritter
“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalm 107:8-9)
We are the most blessed nation on the planet, yet probably the most ungrateful. There’s only one name for those who continually take without giving thanks...a spoiled brat! How disillusioned we are to think that we are blessed because we deserve it...what arrogance! However, being grateful not only promotes God’s Glory, but develops faith and humility in us as well.
Then there’s this concept of praising God during tribulation. God is not asking us to pretend that nothing is wrong. He’s not asking us to believe that adversity in itself is good, but rather, HE is good! King David was known as a man after God’s own heart, yet he would never have earned that reputation had it not been for his thankful heart in the midst of afflictions. It was during some of the darkest times of his life that the Psalms were composed, giving us the impetus, inspiration, and content for much of today’s Christian music. Even the apostle Paul suffered from “a thorn in the flesh” and although he prayed to be released from it, the Lord responded by saying, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness, therefore, I will boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me!” (II Corinthians 12:9)
It seems difficult to hear the voice of God when “all is well” in our lives, particularly because we become complacent, and we often take credit for the good we experience. Yet, I can tell you that having had five back surgeries and living in chronic pain daily, that it’s through the fire of adversity and pain that God speaks to me with a megaphone! I have learned more about the Lord and His heart for my life in the last 8 years than in the previous 40...the suffering I have endured has only served as a catalyst for drawing me closer to the Lord, making me a “God Chaser.” Malcom Muggeridge, a godly, famous journalist and author once said, “Indeed I can say with complete truthfulness that everything I have learned in my 75 years in this world, everything that has enhanced and enlightened my experience, has been through affliction and not through happiness.” And so it is for all of us if we seek God in the midst of trouble.
The Lord never promised us that we would escape all misery; rather, He would be with us “through adversity,” just as He was with the three men in the fiery furnace, and even in the “Shadow of Death,” comforting and guiding us with His “Rod and Staff.”
It is not easy task to be thankful for trials and difficulties, yet the Word encourages us in
I Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in all circumstances, because this is God’s will for our lives. The Lord desires that we have grateful hearts in spite of our situation, because He is literally zealous to reveal Himself to us in the midst of “ill winds.” Another great serendipity or “bonus” about giving thanks is that it causes the enemy to flee from us.
A paraphrase of Ephesians 5:4 says that a heart of thanksgiving will dispel evil thoughts. What a great promise! I implore you to offer praise and thanks for your afflictions...not only will it defeat evil, but God will reveal Himself to you as well! Be grateful!