Maintaining a thankful heart in the midst of trying times (Week 2)

November 7, 2019

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.”

– Psalm 136:1

This month, in recognition of the National Day of Thanksgiving, we are encouraging you to be thankful even in the midst of trying, difficult times. This series is dedicated to two dear friends, simply identified as “S & D,” who are both dealing with health issues involving their husbands.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, gratitude is a joyful commitment of one’s personality to God. In the Old Testament, gratitude to God was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed. The Hebrew people thanked Him for the magnificence of the universe. (Psalm 19:1-4.) When they received good news, they thanked God for His goodness and great deeds. (1 Chronicles 16:8- 12.) When they received bad news, they also gave thanks, trusting that He was a just God. (See Job 1:21.)

In the New Testament, the object of thanksgiving is the love of God expressed in the redemptive work of Christ. The Apostle Paul thanked God for the gift of grace. (1 Corinthians 1:4.) Because the expression of gratitude is tied so closely to the response of faith, Paul encouraged believers to give thanks in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:18.) In fact, Paul commanded Christians to pray with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2) in the name of Jesus Christ, who has made all thanksgiving possible. (Ephesians 5:20.)

If there is one thing I’ve learned about having a thankful heart, it allows me to celebrate and focus on the goodness of God. I understand when life takes a turn for the worst, because of a health crisis, economic downturn, job loss, death of a loved one, whatever the crisis; it can cause one to pause and wonder if they can truly maintain an attitude of thankfulness during such dire circumstances.

This writer suggests, Yes! It is during these difficult times, when having a thankful and grateful heart is so vital. When one is facing fear, despair, desperateness, etc., a thankful heart has the power to bring hope, renewed faith, perseverance and strength. Having a thankful heart also reminds us that God is sovereign and omniscient and, thus, God knows exactly what we are going through. God is also the giver of all things and therefore, we have no need to be anxious about anything, but we are to commit everything to God in prayer with thanksgiving letting our every request be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6.) What are you going through? What is causing you worry and stress? What is troubling you? What is it that keeps waking you during the night? I encourage you even in the midst of your trying times, give God thanks for ALL of your circumstances, surrendering ALL of your cares upon Him, for He truly cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7.)

Beloved, as difficult as it is to swallow, we need trying times in our lives as they teach us not to take anything for granted. What are you saying Reverend? When everything is good, we often take those good times for granted and think we are invincible to hard times. As a result, when hard times come, it completely knocks the wind out of us. However, when we live with the perspective that just like Job, (Job 1-2), things can be taken away from us at any time we will not take life, health, wealth, prosperity, friends, family, etc., for granted; but thank God every day for the blessings God has given us. Let me encourage you, that whatever season you are in in life, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, and His love truly endures forever. During those times when you think God doesn’t know or care about what you are going through, remember that God sees. God knows, and because God loves, God cares.

In Christian Love,
Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min., M.Th.
Lovingly Dedicated to “S & D”

Next Week: Continuation

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