There is so much to be thankful for. We are grateful for the things we have, for abundance and plenty. But I trust you know the Gift-giver is working in a much more meaningful way than merely trying to make the blessings outweigh the problems in our lives. God doesn’t want us to only thank him for the things we identify as good. He wants us to thank him because we trust him to be good and wise and mighty all the time.
When there no crops, can you still trust Him? When your body is sick or not working correctly, are you remembering his future promises? Thankfulness includes “things,” but ultimately rests on God Himself and the overarching reality of who God is.
See into the character of my God. We have a Father who delights in meeting our needs (Philippians 4:19). How can he show us this part of himself if we are not needy? And we have a Father who delights to show the world his awesome presence as people watch him meeting our needs. This is his character. Joshua said in 4:24 that one of the great purposes of God’s work is “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that he is mighty…” We see God more clearly in the life of a broken-hearted person who is trusting him than in the life of someone who is apparently riding wave after wave of blessing.
See further than today. There is much more going on. “Being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). We have a Father who has reserved an inheritance for his children. This enables us to be thankful for what we look forward to in heaven forever.
See deeper than the surface. God has given you a ministry that may be difficult (2 Corinthians 4:1), but remember: there is so much more happening than what is on the surface. We have a Father who does not waste our pain but will redeem it and use it for his honor and glory. Moses states that Israel’s wilderness wanderings were given “to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart...” (Deuteronomy 8:2). God wants you to identify those things in your heart that are not as they should be, humble yourself before the Lord (James 4:10) in confession and turn to do right.
See past my feelings. Are you frustrated? Disillusioned? In the middle of self-condemnation, I have a God who says he has accepted me. In the middle of feeling oppressed, I have a powerful God who reigns over all. He will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). You are a dear, adopted child of God if you have accepted His Son’s payment on the cross for your sins (Galatians 4:5). When my mother and father forsake me, I will trust that the Lord will lift me up (Ps 27:10).
It’s not just in the “good times,” that we are to thank God. Focus on what you know to be true. He is faithful. “Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious Name” (1 Chronicles 29:13). See the good that God is doing beyond the difficulties.