1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalm 100:4-5, Exodus 15:23-24

Chris Mountford talks about how we should express thankfulness even when life gets tough.

Chris Mountford
Chris Mountford

I wonder how life is treating you at the moment? Is it good, bad or indifferent? Can I encourage you that no matter how life feels, to give thanks to God.

If you feel on top of the world, give thanks. If life feels tough, give thanks anyway.

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)

I find it easier to be thankful in good times rather than in bad.

I went through a troubling time with my daughter a few years ago. A rare form of epilepsy left her quite poorly and she would sometimes have several seizures each day. As a dad, it was worrying watching the condition quickly develop and deal with the effects of it.

Whilst there were days during that time in which I really struggled, I tried my very best to remain thankful, no matter what. I reminded myself that despite the troubles, there were also good things going on in my life. In fact, I found the discipline of doing that served as an acknowledgement that God was in control of my life and my family too. To not give thanks felt like accepting defeat. Giving thanks helped to build faith and hope.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and when we read the word for thanks, it is often translated from a Hebrew word called Yadah. Yadah is the root word for praise, confession and speaking out. Giving thanks is not just an act of the mind, it should not be simply thinking nice thoughts. I think there's something good about speaking out our thanks to God.

Giving thanks makes way for God's presence, I'm often reminded of Psalm 100:4-5 which says:

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name."

When that was written, the Jewish believers went to worship God in Jerusalem and had to enter through a gate and move through various courts to get closer to the heart of the temple, where God's presence was.

Here's the picture, as we give thanks to God we are clearing the way to get closer to God and to experience his presence.

"Thanksgiving shuts the door to the bottomless pit and opens the door into the presence of God." - Francis Frangipane.

Giving thanks gives us a healthy perspective.

"Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They travelled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means "bitter"). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. 'What are we going to drink?' they demanded." Exodus 15:23-24 (New King James Version)

In tough times, if we do not practice having an attitude of thankfulness, we can be in danger of fooling ourselves about the bigger picture of our situation. We can magnify the bad stuff and minimise positive things.

In this chapter of Exodus, it was only three days after God miraculously delivered the Israelites from the Egyptian army at the Red Sea before they were complaining about their predicament in the desert. The writer's ink had barely dried on Moses' song of praise after the waters had parted in two before the people's moaning had begun. Sometimes my attitude isn't any better.

"Regularly giving thanks to God not only helps us fully realise how He's working in our lives, it gives us a new perspective-our mind is renewed, our attitude is improved, and we are filled with joy." - Joyce Meyer.

What can we be thankful for? How about the fact that God is good and his love endures forever; for Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and His work of redemption; for the fact that God has given us another day of life today; for family and friends who care; for food, clothes and God's provision.

Practise the discipline of giving thanks to God each day. The more you do it, the more reasons you will see to be very grateful.

I mentioned about my daughter earlier. I thank God for family and friends who stood with my wife and I through dark days and prayed. I give thanks to God for the knowledge and experience of skilled medical professionals who were so helpful. I give thanks and praise to God for healing my daughter, who is now seizure-free. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.