by Scott Stephens

Scott Stephens is the counseling pastor at West End Baptist Church’s West End Counseling Center, a board member of Redeemer Biblical Counseling Training Institute, and a PhD student in the Biblical Counseling Program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. To find out more about our counseling center (WECC), please call the church at 864-232-7312.

Just the other day I saw a friend I haven’t seen in a while. After the normal pleasantries, I asked John how he’s been doing. Sadly, the conversation quickly changed tone. He began speaking about the bad economy and inflation, the rising costs of gas and food, and how the failing stock market is causing him serious concerns for his future. He then began talking about his children and the concerns that he has for their future too. He quietly stated, “There is so much going wrong in the world, it makes me wonder if there is a lot to be happy or thankful about.”

I can understand John’s frustration. Sometimes, it can be hard to have an attitude of thankfulness when we are in the middle of a life struggle or trial. Yet, Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians admonishes that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:18).”

When prices go up and wages go down, when our health takes a turn for the worse, or when troubles happen in the family, we tend to let our fears and frustrations determine our attitudes. Thankfulness can be one of the last things on our minds. But then again, Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths.” It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the chaos of the world. The things we see and experience can be scary and disheartening. It is a natural human emotion to be fearful, but God tells us not to trust in what we see around us but to have trust in Him. God in His omni-presence is everywhere. God in His omniscience knows everything. God in His omnipotence can and does have power over everything that is happening in this world.

I’ve found that most people can be openly thankful for the good things that happen in their life but go deafly silent when things are tough. As Believers we have comfort knowing that all things that happen in our life, happen for our good and for God’s glory (Romans 8:28). If we respond to them appropriately, these trials or tough circumstances, though they can be hard and can bring sorrow, help us to become more like Jesus. Therefore, we can be hopeful, and yes even thankful during our sorrows. God will make something good from them.

We have so much to be thankful for! When I asked a friend the other day what she would consider are the greatest blessings in her life, she said her family, her job, her church… all the things we normally say. God blesses us with so much more! Yes, our job, church, and family are all blessings from God, but what about our abilities, talents, intelligence, and character? Do we thank God for our life today? Are we thankful for the ability to live in America where we can freely share the gospel message with anyone and everyone? Do we thank God, the Sovereign of the Universe, for loving us as His children?

Remember, James 1:17 tells us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.” Everything we have, all that we are, and all the blessings that we receive are gifts from our God who loves us more than we can ever know.

Rather than acknowledging everything that is wrong in this life, lets shift our perspective. Let’s remember and be thankful for a loving God who will protect and care for us, showing us new grace a mercy every day. Every time we see something that takes away our ability to be thankful, let’s change our thoughts by acknowledging the blessings we so often overlook.

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