I didn’t want to believe it. As I sat in my closet reading my Bible one night those words were like a slap in the face. I’d been up all night long looking for peace and comfort in the scriptures. There in black and white were words that I wanted to unsee.
Lord do you really want me to be thankful during this trial?
If I’m honest, being thankful during hard times was not something I was very excited about when I first read it in scripture. In fact, I was confused for a long time. It just seemed really silly to say thank you for pain and heartache. Being thankful for the person who just betrayed me was the last thing I wanted to do.
The more I read, the more I realized that God was really serious about this whole being thankful thing. So I started to try it out. When someone hurt my feelings I would thank God for the self-control not to attack them with my words. It was hard at first, but over time, being thankful during hard times has gotten easier.
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3 Ways to Practice Being Thankful During Hard Times
In the beginning, I had a hard time finding things to be thankful for. I would look around me and see heartache and chaos and just not see anything to be grateful for. It took some time but I realized that I was often looking in the wrong place. Often, if we are going through a trial, the place to look when we want to be thankful is not at ourselves and our circumstances. Focusing on yourself and your problems is a sure way to remain ungrateful, angry, and bitter.
Instead here are 3 ways that I want to encourage you to practice being thankful in hard times:
Remember that God is in control
I really struggle when things feel out of control. I like being in on the plan, and when trials come I’m left feeling confused and anxious. It is very hard for me to learn to let things go, but when I do, I often find peace. That peace comes from knowing God is in control, even when I have no idea what’s going on.
We never go through these hard times alone; God is always there! He knows what you are going through and He knows how He is going to bring you out. Take a few minutes each day to thank God for having your best interest at heart, for having a plan to bless you, and for loving you enough to walk through the fire with you.
You may not know this about me but I can hold a grudge like my life depends on it. I don’t like to forgive people, especially when they have hurt me. It isn’t fair and I often feel like I’m letting them off the hook. The truth is that life isn’t fair and I do need to let people off the hook.
Forgiving, especially when it’s hard, is a great way to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving. Every time I don’t want to forgive, I think about how God has forgiven me of so many sins in the past. When I reflect on that I can’t help but feel thankful for the grace that I have been given. And when I realize the importance of that it becomes easier for me to forgive others.
Keep your joy
If you are keeping your focus on God and learning to let go of bitterness and unforgiveness, be sure to take time to hold on to your joy. When the hard times beat down on us, Satan often uses those moments to steal our joy. Don’t let him!
I have learned over the years that I can find joy in any circumstance if I have the right focus. When I keep my eyes on God I am not overwhelmed by my hurts and pain. I can get up each day and be thankful that I don’t have to try and figure things out for myself.
I don’t know what hard time you may be facing right now. But I do know that finding ways to be thankful, to offer praise to God, will help you get through.
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