Be Thankful

Have you ever had those moments where life just didn’t seem fair? When it just wasn’t getting any better and your complaints came out more and more? When wanting to be thankful was becoming really hard?

When these moments happen I need to be reminded of a prayer that Habakkuk prayed. It is Habakkuk 3:17–19, which says, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (ESV).

The prophet Habakkuk was in a tough position. He was angry with Judah’s rebellion to God and knew God was going to judge Judah for what they had done. As a prophet, Habakkuk was shown by God that He would judge Judah with the nation Babylon, which made the prophet upset. He wondered why God would use a really wicked nation to judge them, and on top of that, Habakkuk himself would suffer with the rest of the nation. God answered Habakkuk’s complaining with reminding him that He (God) is just, and that Habakkuk could trust Him in what He was doing. In response, Habakkuk was able to pray that prayer.

How can we give thanks like Habakkuk even when the outcome doesn’t look so good?

1) Think Much of the Gospel

We can change the words of Habakkuk’s prayer to be this: “Though our cupboards are bare and the refrigerator has nothing in it and my bank account may be empty, and my health is deteriorating, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” Why? The answer is because we have the greatest gift, which is not temporal but eternal, and that is salvation in Jesus Christ.

Yes we need food to survive and money to live and our health is important, but those are temporal needs in light of eternity. The Bible tells us of a great reminder when the outlook is bad. It says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 37–39 ESV).

The love of Christ, which was demonstrated to us sinners on the cross, is greater than anything in this life. So remember when it is bleak that Jesus died for you, paid for your sins, and conquered death as He rose again on the third day. Nothing or no one can take that away. Our outlook goes from bleak to blessed.

2) Worship the Lord When It Is Good and When It Is Bad

It may seem hard to worship the Lord when times are tough but it really is a response to knowing that God is in control through the chaos. Look at Job. He lost so much and went through so much, but he responded by turning to the Lord. It says that Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head (a sign of lament) and fell on the ground and worshipped (Job 1:20–21).

Paul was another man who went through so much. In fact he was beaten and thrown into prison, but instead of complaining, we see him praising. In Acts 16:25 it says, “About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God” (ESV).

A heart of thanks worships God even when it is hard. We can do it because we can trust Him and know that He is good.

3) Practice and Pursue Thankfulness

Grumbling and complaining is easy to do. In fact, it is contagious. Before you know it, it seems like everything coming out of your mouth is a complaint. Paul reminds us in Philippians that we are called to put away the grumbling and complaining in our lives (Philippians 2:14). Instead we are called to model Jesus (Philippians 2:5–11). When we think much of the gospel, which causes us to respond in worship, we cannot help but practice being thankful. We don’t often think about practicing being thankful, but we should. We should pursue being grateful and thankful in all things like Habakkuk, and the only way that is possible is by having a changed heart in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).