Thanking God through Difficult Times

Some of you have had a tough year. You’ve endured your share of criticism. Maybe you’ve lost a job. Maybe you’re going through a rough patch in your marriage.

Now comes Thanksgiving. Can we thank God even when times are tough? Yes, we can.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (GNB) This verse does not say give thanks for everything. It says give thanks for every circumstance. I see it misinterpreted all the time.

You don’t have to give thanks for evil in the world. If my children were murdered, I would not be thankful. If my wife was sick, I would not be thankful. The Bible does not say be thankful for evil. But in every circumstance, no matter how bad it is, you can give thanks to God because …

His purpose is bigger than my problem.
He will give me the power to overcome my problem.
I know I will grow through the experience if I allow God to help me grow.
I may not be thankful for evil, but I can be thankful despite evil.

How can you be grateful when you’ve lost your job, your health, or a spouse? You look not at what you’ve lost – but what you have. And you have an awful lot left.

You’re alive for one thing!

So the question is: What are you taking for granted? Your health? Your freedom? Your relationships? There used to be an old song, “Count Your Blessings, Name Them One By One.” We need to do that. We need to make lists of what we are thankful for – our families, friends, our ministries, whatever we are thankful for. When times are tough, that’s when you need to be reminded of everything God has given you.

Becoming a truly grateful person can be the healthiest change you make in your life all year long – better than any diet or exercise plan you start on. Love isn’t the healthiest emotion out there – gratitude is. When you are thankful despite your circumstances, you’re more resistant to illness and stress.

Besides, you can’t find God’s will for your life when you’re ungrateful. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:18 again. “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will.” If you’re not living a grateful life – despite your circumstances – you’re out of God’s will. It’s that simple.


Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.