Last Saturday, my husband and I went out for some much needed time alone. But the stress of getting ready to leave, fixing lunch for the kids, giving last-minute instructions, and trying to steer clear of an argument I was being dragged into left me feeling a bit frazzled by the time I took my seat in the car.
As we started down the road I sighed to Brian, “Sometimes life is just hard.”
I was fishing for company for my misery. He didn’t take the bait.
Instead of giving me the sympathy I wanted, Brian gave me the reality I needed. He very lovingly asked how life could be so hard when we have three healthy kids, a nice house to live in, two working cars, and a job to pay the bills.
He had a point: We have much to be thankful for.
If complaining is a poison (and it is), then thankfulness is the anti-venom. It builds up good treasure. It corrects our view of reality. It turns our self-centered hearts to God.
I easily forget that everything in my life, the things I’m happy about and the things that annoy me, comes from the hand of a loving God who is working it all together for good.
The prophet Jeremiah used a question to remind us of God’s sovereignty in our suffering,
Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that good and bad come?” (Lamentations 3:38).
I tend to view the good things in my life as worthy of praise and the bad things as worthy of complaint. Instead, I should “rejoice always” and “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess. 5:16, 18). Always. All circumstances.
I remember living out the thankfulness principle a couple of years ago when my kids all decided to be sick at the same time. For several days I was comforting sick children around the clock. All night long, as soon as my head would hit the pillow, someone else would wake up. I got even less rest during the days. It was truly exhausting.
But, I found so much joy that week because I forced myself to be thankful.
I thanked God for the opportunity to show love in a unique way to my little ones. I thanked Him for giving me the broken heart that a mother has for her sick children. And when I thought I was just too tired to do it anymore, I thanked Him for letting me share in the sufferings of Christ.
As my body and emotions were overwhelmed, I was able to praise Jesus in a new way for the sacrifice He made in taking on human form, with all its pain and loneliness and physical limitations. What a sacrifice He made!
I counted my blessings and stopped keeping track of my suffering.
Thankfulness. That is the key.
It’s nearly impossible to complain about my circumstances when I’m busy praising God for them. And there is always something to thank Him for. If there isn’t any good to be found, then praise Him for how He is using the bad. And rest assured, He is using it…so be thankful.
This post has been updated and republished from the archives.