If we are honest, thankfulness can be hard. Many people have gone through difficult situations in the last year. Some have lost jobs, some are suffering from illness, some have seen close relationships end, some have buried loved ones, others have watched family members stray from God. It may be the case that your thankfulness is tied with how well you feel your life is going. Trying times can make it difficult to be grateful, yet if we believe Scripture, we know that God’s love and goodness towards us does not change. God is just as gracious to us during hardships as He is during times of great joy. How does suffering alter your perception of God’s goodness to you?
When we fail to see God’s goodness in all situations, we will inevitably turn to complaining against Him. When we do this, we are accusing God of failure and a lack of love. It is impossible to be thankful when we believe that suffering is a result of God failing to care for us. Satan desires that our afflictions cause us to view God as distant and unloving. Although trials are hard, God never ceases to love us.
Knowing God loves us is one thing, seeing His love during trials is another thing. It is hard to see God’s goodness in our lives when we are fixated on the areas where we are lacking. God chastens us in many ways, often by not giving us exactly what we ask for. Many of us desire closer friendships, more income, a larger home, a leadership position in the church, a nicer car, acceptance from others, a godly spouse, the birth of a child, or healing from illness. Although these can be good and godly desires, we must be careful that we do not measure God’s goodness to us by whether or not we receive exactly what we desire. Although it is difficult at times, we must never question God’s overwhelming love for us. God cannot be any more loving than He already is towards us. If we are unthankful towards God, it is not God that has failed to give, but rather we have failed to recognize what He has already given.
It is important that we do not allow unmet desires in our hearts to hinder our thankfulness towards God. God does not owe us anything. He has already given us the most precious and valuable gift that we could ever receive – the blessed assurance of salvation through Christ Jesus. Anything we are given beyond our salvation is merely due to God being an unfathomably great Father towards us. This includes the trials and hardships that He allows us to endure. Like Job, it is vital that we bless the Lord when He gives and when He takes away. If not, any hardship in our lives will cause us to wilt and fade away.
Thanksgiving is a great time to remind ourselves of God’s incredible goodness to us. If it is a time of year that reminds you of hardships, I encourage you to recollect what God has done for you, and how He is using your suffering for the glory of His name, and the building up of your faith.