At Thanksgiving, we typically express gratitude for God’s blessings. But did you ever consider thanking Him for something that doesn’t seem like a blessing—such as a trying circumstance you want Him to remove or change? A grateful heart is most precious to God when, humanly speaking, our situations don’t warrant giving thanks. By making four foundational decisions, we can begin to see the value of our adversities and respond with appreciation.
Believe and trust the Lord. Only by viewing life from a scriptural perspective can we understand His purposes in our trials and trust His wisdom in allowing them. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)
Accept the situation as coming from God—either directly sent or permissively allowed. If we truly believe He’s working for our good, we can choose to receive each difficulty as coming from His loving hand. Then we can say “Thank You.” “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28-29)
Submit to God in the circumstance. Although we may not like the situation, knowing that God is good and does good, allows us to confidently place our lives under His authority. “You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.” (Psalm 119:68)
Draw from Him the strength to endure. No one has the ability within himself to endure hardships with gratefulness. Only by relying on the Lord can believers go through adversity with an appreciative heart. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2)
Now, think about that circumstance you would like changed, and with a new mindset, offer this prayer to God:
"Lord, I accept this situation as coming from You. In faith and trust, I place myself under Your loving authority, and draw from You the strength I need to endure with gratitude."
Do good to your servant
according to your word, Lord.
Teach me knowledge and good judgment,
for I trust your commands.
Before I was afflicted I went astray,
but now I obey your word.
You are good, and what you do is good;
teach me your decrees.
Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies,
I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are callous and unfeeling,
but I delight in your law.
It was good for me to be afflicted
so that I might learn your decrees.
The law from your mouth is more precious to me
than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. (Psalm 119:65-72)