The past two years when November rolled around, I participated in a “thankfulness challenge.” Every day you post something on social media that you are thankful for. Honestly, the first year when I started, it was really hard to shift my way of thinking. Being genuinely thankful is a journey.
How often do you find Paul complaining as you read his letters in the New Testament? Every once in a while he hints at a hard situation, but scholars still wonder today what the “thorn in his foot” had been. Despite trials, so many of the Christians in the NT seem to be the most positive people ever. No matter how bad the situation is, they always found something to praise God for.
Even in the rest of the Bible (OT), God doesn’t seem to focus very much on the negative. The facts are given.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The neat part about that verse is that it’s like the author is pointing out that the grace of Jesus allows us to be thankful. He is a stable place to put our hope.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7
For the longest time, when I read those verses the prayer part jumped out at me. It’s not just about the act of prayer though, the attitude of that prayer is important. Everything, including that stressful thing is something you can be thankful for. The verse actually starts in the middle of a sentence. “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious…” (Phil. 4:5b-6) Because we understand that God is with us and for us, we have no reason to fear.
We can be thankful for the redeeming work God is always performing in our lives. He is absolutely capable of using the thing that is stressing you out for His ultimate glory.