Summary: It’s easy to be thankful during the good times of life, but how can we be thankful during the difficult times?
Imagine a man who has lost everything…all of his possessions…his ten children…even his health. How would this man respond to such incredible tragedy? Would he be filled with bitterness? Would he go insane? Would he commit suicide? Perhaps you don’t know that there actually was a man who experienced all of this misfortune. His name was Job, and his story can be found in the Bible. What was Job’s response to all of his losses? Listen to what he said: “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21b NASB).
Let’s take a closer look at Job’s story. [Read Job 1:1-3.] Job was a good man. He “feared God and shunned evil” (v. 1). And he was a great man…”the greatest man among all the people of the East” (v. 3). The purpose of today’s message is not to answer the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” My purpose is to answer another question: “How can I be thankful in every circumstance?”
Life was going great for Job. It was easy to be thankful. He had a good marriage. His children were healthy. Business was booming. But then in a matter of minutes everything changed. [Read 1:6-2:10.] We ask ourselves, “How could Job be thankful in the midst of such an awful situation?” And then we scratch our heads when we read a verse like 1 Thessalonians 5:18, which says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The New Living Translation reads, “No matter what happens, always be thankful.” It’s clear that God wants us to be thankful in every circumstance. But how can you and I possibly be thankful when life takes a tragic turn for the worse—as it did for Job?
The key for Job was that he had reached the highest level of thankfulness. That’s not to say that he didn’t struggle. That’s not to say that he didn’t question why all of this had happened to him. If you read the rest of the book, you’ll see that he did. But even though his faith was challenged, it was not destroyed. When everything was taken from him, he chose to say, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
There are three levels of thankfulness.
1. Being thankful when you are BLESSED.
Satan thought that Job was faithful to God only because God had blessed him. Satan thought that if Job’s blessings were taken away, Job would curse God. That’s also what Job’s wife thought he should do. She told him, “Curse God and die.” Many people have the attitude of Satan and Job’s wife. They are thankful in the good times, but not in the bad times. If God gives them blessings; they will thank Him. But if God allows bad things to happen to them; they will curse Him.
2. Being thankful for blessings YET TO COME.
The first level is after the fact; the second is in anticipation of the fact. Thanking God before a blessing is more difficult than thanking Him afterward. This second level is where faith and hope begin, because it involves the unseen. God has promised us blessings in the future, and we can thank Him for these blessings even before we receive and experience them.
3. Being thankful in the midst of DIFFICULTY.
It’s easy to be thankful when you receive a blessing…when you get a new job…when you are healed of some sickness…when you are reconciled to a friend. Anybody can be thankful in those situations. But what if the opposite happens? Are you thankful to God in the bad circumstances of life…when you lose your job…when your doctor tells you that you have cancer…when a close friend betrays you.
Someone has said, “It is not life’s circumstances that determine the quality of our lives but how we respond to them.” Think about that.
Let’s take another look at 1 Thessalonians 4:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul does not say to give thanks for all circumstances, but in all circumstances.
What about the person who has no food on the table…who has just learned that he is dying…whose wife has just passed away? What about the man or woman whose burdens seem to outweigh their blessings? How can that person be thankful?
The words “thank” and “think” come from the same root word. Thankfulness grows out of thoughtfulness. The more you think about what God has done for you, what He is doing for you, and what He will do for you, the more you should be filled with thankfulness.
TREASURE IN HEAVEN
Maybe you are struggling financially. Maybe you don’t enjoy the possessions that other people possess. You may never become rich in this life, but God has promised His children eternal wealth.