November 20, 2022
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Give Thanks in Tough Times.
Ephesians 5:20 says we should be, “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Is it possible to give thanks for all things?
To pretend that all things are good would mock God. Murder, cancer, and divorce are not good. So how can we thank God for these things? Because God is good. (See James 1:17; 2 Samuel 22:31.) It’s all right to ask questions, but always assume the goodness of God.
“We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). God is sovereign, and causes all things—bad or good—to work for good, for those who love Him.
Here are seven good things that trouble may bring for you. You can thank God for them:
“For whom the LORD loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives….No chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:6, 11).
God loves us enough to correct us. King David wrote, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word” (Psalm 119:67). If trouble brings correction, should you not thank God?
The Apostle Paul was highly gifted with grace, as well as intellect and influence. Paul’s temptation was to depend on himself.
God blessed Paul with a vision. He was caught up into the third Heaven and saw things not lawful for a man to utter. But then, Paul said, “Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me…I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
Your greatest strength is God. But when we sail through life without difficulties, we tend not to depend upon Him. Blessings can become a curse unless God allows us to have trouble that brings us to Him. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). If your anguish causes you to depend upon God, can’t you thank Him for it?
It may be that deep sorrow gives you the greatest testimony.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
God is the source of comfort, God comforts us in all tribulation, and God allows us to comfort others with the same comfort we received from Him.
The Apostle Paul, sitting in a dank, miserable prison, waiting to be executed, said, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Philippians 1:12).
Satan once said something like this to God, “The only reason Job serves you is because he has never had trouble.” (Read Job 1:9-11.)
God replied, in effect, “You don’t know my servant, Job. He loves me not because of what I’ve done for him, but because of who I am.” (Read Job 1:12-22.)
If trouble and pain cause you to have a stronger testimony, if trouble is a platform for God’s grace, can’t you thank Him?
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“…His purpose.” What is God’s plan for you?
Health and wealth? Sorry—no.
Service and usefulness? Yes, God wants that, but that is not His highest plan for you.
“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29a). God’s plan is to make His children like Christ Jesus. Christ-likeness is maturity.
In difficulty, we learn patience. You won’t be a mature child of God until you learn patience. (See James 1:4.) And the only way to learn patience, or endurance, is to have something to endure.
So if God is using trouble to make you more like Jesus, can’t you thank Him?
Most of us ask, Why me, Lord? The Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified (1 Peter 4:12-14).
Do you want the Spirit of glory and of God to rest on you? Do you want a fiery trial? Peter says it is the fiery trial that brings the Spirit of glory upon us. If your trouble and pain cause you to know this glory, then for God’s glory, can you not thank Him for it?
Maybe you are thinking, these reasons all sound good, but they don’t fit my case. Here is one that will: mystery. Some things, you will never know. Preachers may never be able to explain it to you. Why?
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).
God lets you know enough to obey Him.
Job said, in effect, “God, I wish there were somebody to argue my case to you. I don’t understand!” (Read Job 23:3-5.) But Job still obeyed. Even when Job’s wife said, “Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9), Job said, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 10). Ultimately, Job concluded about God, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
We don’t have to understand all things in order to thank God. Not all things are good, but God is good.
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Paul is saying in this passage that the glory offsets the suffering. He is not saying that the glory will be just as good as the suffering is bad. He says the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory.
If these seven things are true—and every one is—then can we not, in everything, give thanks?