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The Bible is filled with verses telling us that we must be thankful – thanking God at all times and for everything. It’s easy to praise and thank God when life is good, but what about in the hard times? Why do we even have to thank God during life’s storms?
This blog post is all about Bible verses on thanking God in difficult times; why it’s important to thank God for everything and how to be thankful even if we face difficult times.
Why Its Important to Thank God in All Circumstances
David accurately sums up exactly why we should be thankful to God even in difficult times. In Psalms 103:1-6 he says this:
‘Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he has done for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! The Lord gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated fairly.’NLT
In this passage, David describes two important reasons why we need to give thanks to God in all circumstances.
We Have Been Redeemed
The first, and the most important reason, is that God has forgiven all our sins and redeemed us from death!
Romans 3:23 says,
‘For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,’NIV
And Romans 6:23 says,
‘For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.’NIV
If we never have any other reason to be thankful, this would be more than enough reason to be thankful and praise God for the rest of our days!
Sin separated us from God and doomed us to eternal spiritual death. But God made a way for us to be made righteous. Jesus paid our death sentence, and we are now free from sin and its consequences.
God Fills Our Lives with Good Things
The second reason David gives us for being thankful to God is because of his goodness. God is good and he fills our lives with good things.
You’ve probably either heard of the old hymn, or famous quote of the same title, ‘Count Your Blessings‘: ‘Count your blessings, name them one by one; count your blessings see what God has done…’. In this hymn, the writer tells us that there is always something to thank God for, for he is good and gives us good things.
Though we are not immune to sin and its consequences in this life, God still blesses us with every good thing. He gives us everything that we need, but best of all he gives us his presence, through the Holy Spirit, to comfort, guide, strengthen, and help us.
We have an all-powerful, sovereign God on our side, what is there not to be thankful for!
God Answers When We Call on Him
David gives us another reason why we need to thank God in all circumstances.
In Psalms 34:1-4 he says,
‘I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.’NIV
In this passage David tells us that we should extol (which means praise) the Lord at all times. Why? Because God answers us when we call on him. He delivers us from fear.
Notice how David calls on others to join him in praising God. But notice what is going in with these others David is calling: they are afflicted. We don’t know what they are afflicted with – maybe sickness, poverty, or under threat of attack from David’s enemies. But they are not presently living a happy, easy-going life. Yet David calls on them to join him in praising God.
David knows that God is the source of all things good, and he answers us when we call on him. Even when we are afflicted, God can deliver us from fear and lift us up in those moments so that we can still experience joy and peace.
How to Thank God in All Circumstances
As I mentioned, we all know it’s easy to be thankful when life is good – we feel thankful. But what about when we don’t feel thankful? How do we have a thankful attitude and praise God when nothing seems to be going right?
Don’t Let How You Feel Determine Your Thankfulness
Habakkuk 3:17-19 tells us this,
‘Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.’NIV
Habakkuk is not telling us that we need to feel happy about what is going wrong, but we should thank and praise him anyway. This message, like the Nike slogan, is “Just Do It”. As we talked about earlier, we have so many reasons to be thankful and praise God, regardless of our current circumstances.
Thanking God, Even in Difficult Times, is a Command not a Suggestion
Hebrews 13:15 says,
‘Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.’NLT
Peter is telling us in this passage that we need to continually thank and praise God because of our allegiance to him – our loyalty and commitment to him.
When We Continually Thank God, Our Perspective Changes
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul describes a being given a ‘thorn’ intended to help him mature spiritually and prevent him from becoming conceited. Paul prayed for this thorn to be taken away three times, but God’s answered
Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 saying,
‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’NLT
Paul began to praise and thank God for his weaknesses and says in 2 Corinthians 12:10:
‘That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.’NLT
James also shared Paul’s sentiment, when he wrote this in James 1:2-4:
‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’NLT
The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to be happy about our trials and problem, but it tells us that those trials and problems can shape and refine us to become more mature in Christ. This is something to be thankful for! So even if we don’t like difficult circumstances, we can thank God for them knowing that God uses them for our good. We can focus our thankfulness on the good outcome that God promises in Romans 8:28:
‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.’NLT
What Should We Thank God For?
When the Bible talks about thanking God, it is often united with praising God. Thanking God is, in effect, praising him.
So, thanking God then, should primarily be about God – who he is and what he has done.
This is not to say, that we shouldn’t thank God for the things he has given us, such as our jobs, or a roof over our head, or food – Jesus demonstrated giving thanks to God for these things. But our primary focus should be God himself, rather than us.
Thankfulness based on the number of items and possessions we can count, limits our perspective on what we should be thankful for, and fixes our gaze on earthly things and circumstances.
Look at David’s prayer in Psalms 59:16-17:
‘But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For your have been my refuge, a place for safety when I am in distress. O my Strength, to you I sing praises, for you, O God, are my refuge, the God who shows me unfailing love.’NLT
David’s focus of thanksgiving and praise is who God is and what God has done.
No matter the circumstances we face, no matter how difficult, we can thank God for who he is and all that he has done for us. And when we learn to have a heart of thankfulness and gratitude, God blesses us for our faithfulness to him.
I love the story in Acts 16:25-26:
‘Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off!’NLT
To Paul and the other prisoners, this was just a normal day in prison. The prisoners were probably feeling uplifted and blessed by Paul and Silas’ prayers and hymns, enjoying the fellowship with other believers despite their surroundings.
Then suddenly God blew the doors and the chains right off! I believe that God was blessed by their thankful hearts and their worship. And he blessed them in return.
Paul and the other prisoners decided not to escape however, which led to the spread of the gospel message and prison guards receiving Christ. But I love how this lesson shows us just how powerful praise and thanksgiving can be to transform our lives!
By thanking God, even in difficult times, we bless God, and he blesses us in return!
The Power of Being Thankful: 365 Devotions for Discovering the Strength of Gratitude by Joyce Meyer – Discover the life-changing power of a grateful heart! In this 365-day devotional, Meyer explores how pausing to acknowledge God’s blessings helps restore us to a state of spiritual peace. Designed to spark an attitude of gratitude in your life, each daily meditation includes an inspiring reading, a Scripture verse, and a prayer of thanks.