There is always something to be thankful for, even though it may not seem that way when everything is crashing down and our life is coming apart at the seams.
Take what happened to Job, for example...
Job 1:6-22 NLT
One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. “Where have you come from?” the Lord asked Satan.
Satan answered the Lord, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”
Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”
“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
We often wonder why bad things happen to good people… especially when we are one of the good people that bad things are happening to. We, like Job, may find that learning the answer to that question can be a very humbling experience. Job was wondering what he had done to deserve such a fate. In essence, by asking Job a series of questions that Job was unable to answer, God helped Job to see that he had been wrong to question God (see Job 38-42; key verses 40:1-5).
Instead of asking God why, Job would have done better to continue praising God as he did at first (cf; Job 1:21). Even so, I seriously doubt that you or I would have praised God like Job did when he first learned that the bottom of his world fell out all at once. He was definitely a better man than me. He even refused to take his wife’s suggestion to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9).
It is always easier to identify and complain about everything we feel is not right in our life than it is to identify and praise God for all the goodness in our life and the world we live in. Take, for example, the Israelites after God freed them from their bondage in Egypt. They were constantly fussing about their situation because they were unable to see that they were actually better off than they were before. They were short-sighted and ungrateful. Does that sound familiar? As a parent, I can relate!
God gave the Israelites feasts and festivals to help them remember where they came from and who they had to thank for all the goodness in their lives. Here in America we have set aside days to remember where we came from and who we have to thank for all the goodness in our lives – even when we become short-sighted and forget how good it is to be called children of God (see John 1:12; 11:52; Romans 8:16,21; 9:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1,10; 5:2).
Thanksgiving in America is a time when we pause to thank God for His goodness and blessings upon our life. Like Job, we may question God as to why things happen that we cannot make sense of. But also like Job, we do well to consider how great is our God and praise Him for letting us know that we who persevere to the end, will be saved from all that troubles us today. He will wipe every tear from our eyes and all our troubles will be long forgotten. He loves His children so much that He sacrificed His Son to pay the penalty of our sin and thereby restore and renew our relationship with Him – so that we could be with Him in eternity.