No circumstances, regardless how harrowing, should rob Christians of their thankfulness.
We will all face hardships in life, but as Christians we know that God uses all circumstances, good and bad, to form us into the image of Christ. Romans 8:28 famously teaches, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” If we keep our minds fixed on this truth, we can remain thankful in all situations, whether easy or difficult.
Commenting on Romans 8:28, John MacArthur writes,
No matter what our situation, our suffering, our persecution, our sinful failure, our pain, our lack of faith—in those things, as well as in all other things, our heavenly Father will work to produce our ultimate victory and blessing. The corollary of that truth is that nothing can ultimately work against us. Any temporary harm we suffer will be used by God for our benefit (see 2 Cor. 12:7–10).
We don’t know what the next election will bring, how our health will look in the future, or when (not if) disaster will strike next. But we do know that whatever comes at us in life has been sovereignly ordained by God for our good. We know that we belong to the One “who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).
John speaks to this fact in his sermon “Fundamental Christian Attitudes: Thankfulness.” He says,
For believers, we know God is at work. And we know that God is unfolding a divine agenda, and a divine plan, and a divine purpose—each component determined by Him for our benefit, and our good, and His glory. He’s leading us to a sovereignly designed goal.
With this knowledge, how can Christians be anything but thankful?
John concludes the sermon with these words:
My prayer is that God will fill your heart with joy no matter what, and that you’ll rejoice always and in everything give thanks; that’s crucial to the life of the church. And you can do it on the basis of this one little verse in Philippians 2:13: “It is God who is at work in you.” Isn’t that great? And what’s He doing? “To will and to work for His good pleasure.” And since He’s at work in you, using all this stuff to work for His own good pleasure, the next verse says, “You can do all things without grumbling.” You can do all things with joy and gratitude.
Because God is at work in us and has ordained everything that comes to pass for our sanctification, we can be thankful in all circumstances.
Used with permission from John MacArthur.