Being thankful is a common theme throughout both the Old and New Testaments (Psa. 100:4; 2 Cor. 4:15; Phil. 4:6; etc.). I am thankful that our great nation chooses to celebrate a day dedicated to being thankful. Personally, I am so blessed with many wonderful things.
Aside from all of the spiritual blessings God has given me, I have good health, a bed to sleep in at night, a roof over my head, a vehicle to drive, friends, family, and a wonderful wife (oh, and Alabama football!). It is easy to be thankful for the good things in life. It is not as easy to find thankfulness in our trials, however. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says:
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Even in our trials, we should find thankfulness (Phil. 4:10-13). Here are just a few reasons why we should find thankfulness in our trials:
Trials can give us an opportunity to grow and examine ourselves. James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials because the testing of our faith produces patience (Ja. 1:2-3). Our trials will never be stronger than we are (1 Cor. 10:13). Many tests will be laid before us as an opportunity for self-betterment (Deut. 8:2-6). We should be thankful for this.
Trials can wake us up to reality. We can get so caught up in making a living that we forget to live. We forget about the things that are really important. I have heard stories that most would consider tragedies. However, those very trials ended up saving lives, marriages, friendships, and even souls. Trials have a way of “sobering” us up (Eccl. 7:4). We should be thankful for the uninvited wake-up calls and alarms that we forgot to set.
Trials can serve as stepping stones to get us to the right place. I dare say that most of us can look back at situations in our lives and appreciate something looking back that we didn’t appreciate at the moment. Joseph is a man who immediately comes to mind (Gen. 37-50). He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, he was sold into slavery, and he was wrongfully put in jail. Yet, after all of these things, God brought Joseph to prominent power. Joseph said:
“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Gen. 50:20).
My sister had juvenile diabetes growing up and she had to give herself shots and prick her finger multiple times a day to check her blood sugar. You would think that someone like that would have a pretty good excuse to be bitter. Instead, she said that she was thankful that God allowed her to have diabetes because she was able to go to a diabetes camp, make friends she would have otherwise not made and help other children deal with their diabetes. She was incredible.
Tragically, my sister passed away in a car accident over 15 years ago at the age of 17. It was and is hard to find any positives in the death of my sister. I still have many questions. I still find the question of why just as unanswered now as it was then.
However, the death of my sister instilled something in me. It instilled in me the fact that life is so short and so precious. It truly is a vapor. I began taking Christianity seriously at a young age because I had experienced the concept of James 4:14. Life truly is about seeking Jesus (Mt. 6:33). At the end of the day and at the end of our lives, that will be all that matters (Rom. 8:28).
I want to encourage you not to waste your trials. Be thankful for them. Learn from them. Grow from them.
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Yes, I need to be thankful for everything that God has blessed me with, but I also need to find thankfulness in the trials that have, hopefully, made me into a better person (1 Pet. 5:10-11).
– Kevin Pendergrass
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