"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Thanksgiving is only two days away, so it's only natural to be thinking about the people and things for which we are thankful. I'm so thankful to God for my life, my sweet husband and precious baby, my energetic furry baby, my family and friends who love and support me....the list could go on and on and on. God has been so good to me. I will be honest with you - I sometimes forget to give thanks to God. Maybe that's why Thanksgiving is a national holiday - a chance to stop and give thanks where it is due. I'm trying to get better at this throughout the year and throughout my day by consciously asking myself, "Have you thanked God yet?" It still isn't my initial response, but I'm praying and working toward it.
So, if I'm already not consistent at giving God thanks for the good stuff, you can bet I'm not great at giving Him thanks for the bad stuff. The Bible says to give thanks in ALL circumstances - good and bad. I can understand why I should give thanks to God for the good things because all good things come from Him (James 1:17). But, why should I thank God for the bad things that happen in my life? Bad things aren't from God; it's not His character. He doesn't cause bad things to happen, but He often uses the bad situations in our lives as a catalyst to bring us to Him.
I can say from experience that when things get tough, I feel God's presence more than ever. He is right there with me, encouraging me and sustaining me. He lifts my head (Psalms 3:3) and gives me the strength I need to get through the situation (Philippians 4:13). Of course He is always beside me, but when things are going my way I find that I don't seek and acknowledge Him like I do when things are going badly. Have you ever noticed that people who aren't what you consider "praying people" always turn to prayer in moments of crisis? Trials tend to drive us to our knees and into the arms of Jesus for comfort and answers. It is in these moments that our faith is sharpened and our love for Him is deepened. We open our souls to Him and are able to see His great, steadfast love for us. He is always there with us, waiting for us to turn to Him. His constant presence in my life - especially through the difficult times is definitely worthy of praise and gratefulness.
It is my prayer for myself and for you to thank God through the difficult and painful trials in our lives. Thank Him for His constant presence, His unending faithfulness, His steadfast love, His immeasurable grace, and His unfathomable wisdom working in our lives. Trials are much easier to handle when you keep your eyes on Jesus instead of the problem (James 1). My prayer is also that we seek God when things are going our way - that He is the focus of our everyday lives, and not just our "emergencies." Through the good and the bad, He does not change - He is still God, He is still good, and He still deserves our praise and thanksgiving through it all.