Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
Think about the last time you felt grateful. Was it when someone presented you with a thoughtful gift? Was it after you shared a meal with a close friend? Those are both wonderful things that are easy to be grateful for. But when was the last time you were thankful for something not so wonderful – like a job loss or a heartbreaking diagnosis?
It can be very difficult to give thanks in the midst of tough times, especially when we can’t see the purpose behind them. In his letter to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul encouraged believers to “rejoice always” and to “give thanks in all circumstances.” It is important to note here that he didn’t say, “give thanks for all circumstances.” God is not asking you to thank Him for the bad things that happen to you. But He does want you to praise Him for what He is teaching you as you face the less-than-ideal parts of life.
Your Heavenly Father is much more interested in who you are becoming than what you are doing. As followers of Jesus, our goal in life is to be like Christ. With that goal in mind, we can begin to see more clearly how God can use trials and difficulties to conform us to the likeness of His Son.
Even when you have unanswered questions or a lack of understanding, you can praise God that you are in process. You can thank Him for the plan and purpose He has for your life. You can rejoice in that “He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28), and that is definitely something worth being grateful for.