If we are honest with ourselves, we have all acted less favorably in negative circumstances than we would like to admit. How many of us have uttered words of exasperation toward God? Perhaps, something like this: “Really, God?!” It is a natural response in the heat of the moment; however, if we make it our default response, we will find those words rolling off our tongue more and more. Circumstances tend to get worse as we complain more. Joy eludes us while bitterness may begin to grip our hearts. When that happens, we lose our sense of gratitude and fail to offer up thanksgiving. An evil heart of unbelief may follow after, if this condition goes unchecked. We must return to rejoicing and give God thanks in everything.
When we are so entrenched in our current condition, it is easy to lose sight of what God has already done for us. Do you remember how you felt when Jesus saved you from your sins and the wrath to come? Do you recall the warmth of His Love for the first time, and how clean you felt as a result? Does God owe us anything? Reality check: the Lord is God; He can do as He pleases, and it pleased Him to save us. He did not have to; but He did, and the reason is He loves us. If you have difficulty with thanksgiving, start there.
1Thessolians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (KJV). Thanksgiving not only keeps our hearts immersed in gratitude, it keeps us in the Faith. It declares God is good, and He is good at all times. A hypocrite can sing praises to God when everything is good, but a true child of God will trust Him and sing praises in the worst of times. In our darkest hours, He will give us a song in the night, which reveals we are children of the Day. That is if we yield to Him in spite of our circumstances. One reason for our difficulty with offering up thanksgiving at the time of distress or mourning is the emotions can be so overwhelming. Nonetheless, if we offer praise in spite of them, our emotions will submit to the Spirit and peace will come. This is an act of worship.
When peace comes, so does clarity. When we are in a state of peace, the Holy Spirit is more able to speak with us. He can reveal things to us concerning our situation that we would not normally see. While in a state of peace, we will not grieve Him; we will yield to Him. If we allow our emotions to have their way and speak for us, we will resist anything the Lord might want say to us, or lead us in doing. For example, if I am overrun with anger, I will more than likely rebel against anything that looks remotely spiritual, because my flesh is having a field day. When we are in a state of rest, God can give us the creativity we need to deal with the situation at hand, because that is when we are the most teachable. Sometimes, the Lord will show us that in the string of events that took place, He was working behind the scenes the entire time. One event often leads to another. For example, a simple delay in traffic may set up the timing necessary to share the Gospel with someone searching for the Truth at the appointed time. Divine appointments sometimes come by divine interventions. Keep in mind that those things we endure are also meant to benefit others. If people can see us triumph in hardship, they may find hope for their difficulties. Ministries often come out of misery turned into joy.
Thanksgiving evokes blessing. When we bless, blessings come. We reap what we sow (see Galatians 6:7-9). The enemy loves to catch us in our weakest moments so we may agree with him. He only has as much authority as believers give him. Jesus stripped Satan of his power; therefore, he needs us to be in agreement with him in order for him to have any (see Colossians 2:9-15). If he can get us to speak words of cursing, our words become a destructive force. When we speak as the oracles of God, our words become Spirit and life (see John 6:63; 1Peter 4:11). Thus we read, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21 (KJV). Before anything difficult comes our way, we need to decide that we will offer thanksgiving long before we see it on the horizon. We must purpose to praise at all times!