Can You Thank God When Life Seems Bad?
By Rick Warren
— November 29, 2017
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).
Gratitude develops your faith when times are tough — when things don’t make sense, when you can’t figure it out, when your prayers are unanswered, when life stinks, when everything is going the way you didn’t want it to go. Anybody can thank God for good things. But when you can thank God even in the bad things, your faith grows and your spiritual roots go deeper.
In the Bible, the prophet Habakkuk was going through tough times. He said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV).
Habakkuk wasn’t thanking God for all the things that had gone wrong in his life. What was his cause of gratitude? “I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
Habakkuk could say, “Everything else stinks in life, but I can be grateful, because the Lord is my Savior. He will pull me out. He’ll bring me through this. I’m not on my own. He hasn’t abandoned me. I will still give thanks to God.”
This is the ultimate test of faith: Can you thank God when life stinks? That’s the test of how deep your spiritual roots go.
When you’re going through tough times, you need to look at what’s left, not what’s lost, and be grateful for it. No matter how bad things are, there are always thousands of things you can be grateful for. And no matter how bad things are, there is always the fact that you can be thankful to God just for being God. He has promised to see you through, to help you out, to strengthen you, to care for you, to do miracles, to answer your prayers. He’s promised that even when things don’t go your way, he can work it for good in your life.
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Talk It Over
- What are some of God’s promises from the Bible that can help you remember who he is and what he will do for you when times are tough?
- Think of someone you know who displayed (or is displaying right now) a deep faith in the face of adversity. What characteristics or habits mark that person’s spiritual life?
- Why does thanking God even in bad things reveal so much about your spiritual maturity?
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