Christianity: Being Thankful for The Good AND The Bad Things in Life
When I was in college, one of my professors went on a rant in front of the class about religion. He said a lot of things that I don’t care to repeat but one of the things he spewed in anger about Christianity has stuck with me ‘til this day. I remember hearing him going on about how Christians give thanks to God when they’re in a good place; winning an award, delivering a speech, etc.—but no one ever thanks God when something bad happens to them.
Now, to an outside observer, this may seem like a very legitimate statement. You don’t normally hear Believers walking around saying things like: thank you Jesus, I just failed my entrance exam! Hallelujah, I’ve got cancer! Glory to God for this foreclosure!
No, you don’t hear that often, if at all. One of the very obvious reasons you don’t hear Christians thanking God for the negative things they face in life is because we have an understanding that all good things come from above—James 1:17 NIV. I don’t think I need to explain that illness, sadness, and hardships are not good things, nor do they come from God. But Vay, doesn’t the Bible say we’ll face trials and tribulations sometimes?
It certainly does! God is our loving Father, but never forget Christ’s words in John 16:33 NIV: … In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Trouble happens naturally in this dark world we live in. But no matter what you face or how you got into that situation, you should always keep James 1:2 NIV in mind.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
In some versions of the Word, this scripture says troubles of any kind. That means, no matter what you face, rejoice in the Lord. Don’t rejoice for your illness or loss of a loved one, or whatever ails you; rejoice that God has given you the strength to overcome this. Rejoice that Christ is right there beside you. Rejoice that you know weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning: Psalm 30:5 NIV.
So, now that I’ve talked about how to be thankful for the bad, let’s discuss thanking God for the good. Seems like that would be natural, right? For some Believers, it is not. Most Christians will thank God for their breakthroughs; finally getting that promotion, meeting the person of your dreams, paying off your mortgage earlier than expected. These are things that easily earn an excited, thank you Lord! From Believers and non-Believers alike, but I’m talking about the smaller things—the everyday things you may not even notice.
Are you thanking God daily? Are you taking the time to show appreciation for that wonderful parking space you got at the grocery store? Did you thank God for the sale at your favorite shoe store? What about the time you drank the milk a few days after the expiration date and it didn’t make you sick?—that’s a real blessing!
When you show appreciation for what you already have, you open yourself up to be given more. Praise God for the job you have and the promotion you know is coming. Thank God for this period of singleness to grow closer to Him and rejoice for the wonderful marriage that is just around the corner.
Think of how Jesus fed the multitude; He first gave thanks for what he already had and then His portions were multiplied, and He was given more than enough (John 6:8-13 NIV). What does this tell us as Believers?
When you are thankful—for the little and the big, the good and the bad—you must also exhibit faith.
In Ephesians 5:19-20 NIV, Paul instructs Believers to be thankful in everything—that includes the little things and the bad things. It might be hard to be thankful in the midst of a storm, but as Children of God we must learn to recognize Christ in every situation.
Did you know, not being thankful to God is a sin?
When you don’t give credit to the Lord, you take it for yourself or you glorify others; this is the beginning of idolatry. You might not be glorifying others on purpose, some do it without even thinking. You can recognize this attitude when people say things like: Give yourself some credit! Thank goodness! You’ve got good luck! And, what a great coincidence!
No… Good things are not coincidences, they are blessings arranged and ordained by God. There is no such thing as luck. And all credit and glory goes to Christ alone. Thank the Lord, not goodness—what has goodness ever done? Goodness alone is nothing without the presence of Christ Jesus.
Romans 1:21 NIV says: For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
This means those who do not give thanks and glory to God—especially those who know Him—have foolish hearts. Do you know why? Because when you give thanks to the Lord, you are acknowledging His presence in your life.
Giving thanks for something God has not done yet—healing that disease, removing the addiction, bringing you to the spouse of your dreams—is an act of faith and gratitude. In giving thanks for future blessings, you are inviting Christ into your situation and declaring that it is already done, the battle is already won in Jesus’ name.
So, no matter what you face: a tribulation, a time of blessings and favor, a testing of your faith—even a situation you got yourself into, recognize Christ wherever you stand and be thankful for the strength He has given you to endure and the blessings and restoration waiting on the other side. Try making a habit of thanking God everyday for as much as you can think of—the good and the bad!—and watch how your life is transformed.