This means that there is no limit on the time or the extent of our thanksgiving. God’s will for us includes constant joy, ceaseless prayer, and boundless thanks. But when times are tough it's hard sometimes to be thankful. When you do give thanks in tough times, it does three things for you.
1. Cultivates Your Character
As it says in the scripture giving thanks is the will of God.
Cicero, the Roman poet, observed: "Thanksgiving is not only the greatest of all virtues, it is the parent of all virtues.".
There’s a hymn that says; "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done?" When we do that we look at what we do have not what we don't have.
As the psalmist said,
Psalms 103:1-5 NKJV Bless the Lord , O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord , O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
2. Thanksgiving Increases Your Joy
The words thanksgiving and joy come from the same Greek root, charis, meaning "grace."
Thanksgiving is eucharis, and joy is chara. If you don't give thanks, what will you give? Anger, resentment, doubt, complaint? The secret to abounding joy is the gratitude attitude. In other words, thanks.
Gratitude is the world’s healthiest human emotion. It increases your immunity to sickness. There are studies that show that happier people are healthier people.
Ungrateful people tend to be unhappy people. Nothing ever satisfies them. They never have enough. They are “when-and-then” people who think, “When such and such happens, then I’ll be happy.”
But the Bible gives us another way.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 GW Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.
Gratitude can change everything. If you’re feeling depressed, make a list of 50 things you can be grateful for. Your gratefulness will help shift your focus away from your problems and toward everything good God has done and is doing in your life.
We take too much for granted. Develop the attitude of gratitude and watch your stress level go down—because there is always something to be grateful for.
3. Thanksgiving Conquers Your Problems
No, I don't mean that all your problems go away when you give thanks. I mean that your problems stop being such a problem. You live from the inside out. What goes on around you no longer control the condition of the world within you.
You can't control the problems that come into your life, but you can control how you respond to them.
There's a saying; "Bitterness comes to all. It sours some; it sweetens others”. Use the bitterness of your problems to sweeten your spirit even in the midst of them through thanksgiving and praising God. Not for the problems but in the middle of them. When we praise God and thank Him the focus is on God and no longer on the problem.
Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries’ November’s Teaching Letter, from the Pastor’s Heart gives us three keys to thanking God in all circumstances.
The first key is that as a believer in Christ, you are in God’s hands.
When describing His people, Jesus told the disciples, “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29).
Furthermore, the One who holds you is omnipotent: “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). There is no one greater than your Protector.
The second key is God’s assurance that He works everything for our good.
“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Whatever happens to us, God will use it to achieve His purpose in our lives.
Often He gives blessings, pleasures, and abundance, and we recognize them as coming from the Lord. But He also allows difficulties and suffering. Yet even from these things He’ll bring positive effects, frequently in the form of our spiritual growth and learning.
God is also able to take our failures and turn them for our good. When we disobey and sin against Him, His chastening hand comes upon us with painful consequences to bring us to repentance.
I remember the words my mother said every time she had to discipline me: “I’m doing this for your good.” And that’s exactly what our heavenly Father does for us. He never instigates sin in our lives (James 1:13)—but if we stumble over a temptation, He may use it to humble and teach us.
Here’s the third key: an understanding of God’s specific purpose.
It’s easier to give thanks when we know the purpose we are “called according to” (Romans 8:28). That purpose is found in the very next verse: “to become conformed to the image of His Son” (v. 29).
God is working through your circumstances to make you like Jesus. It’s a process that begins at salvation and will be completed at the resurrection, when the Lord “will transform the body of our lowly condition into conformity with His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21).
In eternity we’ll see how God worked everything together for our good. All pain and hardship will be gone, and we’ll experience fullness of joy and pleasures forever in our Savior’s presence (Psalm 16:11).
When your mind is focused on God’s sovereignty over all your life, you’ll be able to thank Him in every situation, whether pleasant or difficult. Believing these three truths will make your trust unshakeable, bring you great comfort, keep you from bitterness, and teach you contentment.
One of the greatest marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to give thanks when it's tough.