It’s not always easy to give thanks to God when life gets hard. When the weight of the world seems to be hanging on your shoulders, the last thing you want to do is give thanks. How can you be thankful when you’ve lost everything? Or, when hope seems to be slipping through your grasp?
We often struggle to reconcile the truth of God’s word with the reality of our present circumstances. How can the Bible tell us to give thanks in all circumstances when some are incredibly painful? Is the Bible being unfair? Does God not care about your suffering?
The Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, even seasons of difficulty. I get that it feels unfair but trust me, God had your best intentions in mind when he inspired the Apostle Paul to write those words.
Speaking of the Apostle Paul, did you know that he was in a dark and dingy prison when he wrote those famous words? He knew the painful intensity of hardship and what it meant to suffer. Jesus, God in the flesh, knew what it meant to suffer too. He died the ultimate death on the cross. So, if no one else gets your struggle, know that these two do.
And yet, they encourage us to rejoice and give thanks amidst our pain. Why?
Why you should give thanks to God when life is hard
Thankfulness is the source of true joy and contentment
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7
Both science and the Bible agree that thankfulness leads to joy. Routinely practicing gratitude can help us experience more positive emotions such as excitement, joy, and happiness. Neural pathways that produce these positive feelings are created in our brains each time we practice gratitude.
Philippians tells us that instead of being anxious about life’s circumstances, we should present them to God with a heart of thanksgiving. When we do this, the Bible promises that the peace of God will guard our hearts and minds.
How is this possible? Now, instead of focusing on the present circumstances before us, we begin to think about God and how good he is despite it. We remember his character and realize that even in the pain, he is faithful to us. Both science and the Bible teach us that we receive supernatural peace and joy when we approach life with a heart of thanksgiving.
Thankfulness does not mean your pain doesn’t matter
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15
Jesus understands our hardship, our weaknesses, and our pain. He sympathizes with us because he’s been in our shoes. Please understand that thankfulness does not mean you should ignore the reality of your hardship. It’s not a call to toss everything aside and declare “It’s all good” when everything is falling apart.
Life is hard. I know that, and I’ve been there. However, a lack of gratitude can actually cause your pain to grow more intense and spiral out of control.
Earlier, I told you that thankfulness leads to joy and contentment. The enemy wants to steal that away from you. He wants to magnify the pain you’re already going through so that you won’t be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A couple years ago, the anthem of my heart became “Raise A Hallelujah” by Jonathan and Melissa Helser. I literally praised God and declared that he was good through tears, and a seemingly hopeless situation in front of me. Did things change immediately? No. Did I change? Yes.
God gave me supernatural peace during one of the most difficult seasons of my life. I was able to step into that peace by trusting him and obeying his call to thanksgiving despite my circumstances.
If you have to cry, cry. If all you can do is weep, go ahead and weep. God understands your tears. He feels your pain. But, he is good. And, even in the middle of your pain, you can raise your own hallelujah, letting the enemy know that he can’t have your joy.
God is with you in your struggle
Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”Deuteronomy 31:6
Rest in this: the God of the universe is with you in your struggle. Life can be painful at times but God won’t ever leave you to wander on your own. Even if it feels like he’s not there, he’s with you. He’s guiding you and leading you to a beautiful destination.
You may not see it now but God is absolutely working on your behalf. He will not leave you in this.
Sometimes tough things happen on the way to our beautiful destination, and it feels hard to even want to continue. But, God wants you to know that if you don’t give up, you will reap a wonderful harvest of blessing.
Knowing this, you can give thanks to God even when it’s hard. You can praise God in this storm because no matter what, you are secure.
There’s still a lot to give thanks God for – even when life is hard
Finally, there’s still so much to give thanks to God for – even when life is hard. Though we may not always recognize it, we are truly blessed. Thankfulness actually trains our minds to see and acknowledge our blessings, and acknowledging our blessings help us to experience them more fully.
Take this scenario of a single mom whose husband has walked out on her, for example:
Her present situation is extremely painful and she doesn’t know how to cope. All she can think about is the fact that he left. It seems impossible to get over.
But, she has a young daughter who is only six years old. She forgot that her daughter was her biggest blessing and gift from God, and though losing her marriage was hard, she still has hope.
Suddenly, she realizes the truth. Then, she begins to thank God for her daughter and as she praises him, she remembers her network of friends, the new church she recently joined, and the kind neighbor who always offers to bring her a warm meal. She notices all of these blessings and even though the pain of losing her husband is still real, the joy at seeing what she still has left outweighs the pain.
Have you taken a moment to pause and recognize the blessings in your life? What are the good things that God has done in your life? I know life is hard, but God is good, and he has placed many blessings around you. Opening your eyes to see them just might change your life and bring you hope amidst despair.
So, should you give thanks to God when life is hard? The answer is a resounding yes. God is not being cruel when he asks us to give thanks in hard times. He knows that we can’t survive without a heart of thanksgiving. Giving thanks to God in hard times is definitely not easy but it’s absolutely worth it.
Founder, Daily She Pursues
Shanté is the founder of Daily She Pursues. She is passionate about teaching women how to pursue the heart of God by studying his word, spending time in prayer, and committing to a daily walk with the Lord. Shanté is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Biblical Studies at Liberty University and some of her favorite things include tea, journaling, art museums, essential oils, and thrift shopping.