Grateful Even When It’s Difficult.

Being grateful during difficult times seems almost impossible as it’s hard enough to be thankful when things are going well. So how can we be thankful when struggles and trials come? How can we be grateful when we suffer from a long-term disease, we lose our jobs or face trials of various kinds (James 1:2)?

When our world is falling apart, how can we be expected, to “give thanks in all circumstances?” (I Thessalonians 5:18). Jim Burns says:

“Paul is not telling you to be thankful for these things; rather we are to be thankful in our circumstances and challenges us to find the reason to be thankful even in the worst of struggles.”

All of us struggle to be thankful to God in times of suffering and despair, depression and grief, but remember, God is not just a bystander.

My wife Robyn was facing major surgery, donating a kidney to me. The doctors had warned her about the pain, possible infection, but she was focused on the benefits to our marriage and to me specifically. The renewed longer life, vitality, future ministry, and getting off dialysis. While waiting in the pre-operation room, she was overwhelmed with what was ahead. All the other patients and nurses had left for their surgeries, and being all alone, she started to cry and asked God for help. This is how God helped:

First, He brought a verse to her memory, which 9-year-old Joel had recited to her the Sunday before, Isaiah 41:10 “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand” (NIV). God spoke to her, and it brought comfort to her heart. God will speak to you through His Word bringing peace and comfort during tough times.

Secondly, she realized she was not alone. In that darkened, quiet room, that just moments before had been busy with other patients along with pre-op nurses, she heard, “Robyn, Robyn is that you?” For the briefest of moments, she thought, “God is that you?” but then realized that it was someone that she knew. Rob, not only knew her but had been part of her children’s ministry. She had thought she was all alone, but God had placed someone else in the room with her. They strengthened and encouraged each other with faith stories and scripture, and then it was time for her surgery. How often God has brought someone unexpected into my life at the exact moment that I needed encouragement.

Third, God gave us hope. As Robyn came out of surgery and I went in, we knew that this was a life-changing event. God gave us a hope that this kidney transplant would work and it has for over 16 years. I have been dialysis-free! Hallelujah. But we have an even greater confidence in the very promises of God. That sovereignly He looks after us and that God can and will do what He says.

I don’t think it ever will be easy to go through difficult times. However, I believe that God will continue to speak to us words of peace through His Word, that He will bring someone into your life that will comfort and encourage you at just the right moment, and that He will give you hope that He will keep His promises. So, I thank God that through difficulties He has taught me to say “Thanks, God, I Trust You!”