When your job stinks, or your child is in trouble, when you or someone you know is facing a serious illness, or your marriage is falling apart, when everything that could be going wrong seems to happen all at once, how can we possibly be thankful? It seems irrational to be grateful in a terrible situation.
It’s much easier to be thankful when things are going well. You’ve certainly heard people say “God is good”, in response to good news. I tend to say that only when something has gone in my favour. Rarely do I say it or hear it from others when the situation is the opposite.
“I lost my job. God is good.”
“My friend died. God is good.”
“My child is being bullied at school. God is good.”
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? We can be grateful when life goes well and thank God, but we struggle to feel the same when circumstances change. Is God still good even when life isn’t?
I’m reminded of a saying, “God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.”
Though it may be difficult to believe in the midst of chaos, we do have something for which we can always be thankful. God is above whatever situation you find yourself in today. However lousy your circumstance in the past week, month or year does not change God. What you’re dealing with doesn’t take away from who He is. He is who He is. If God is good all the time, then that promise alone is worth our thanks.
We can be grateful that no matter how bad life may be at this moment, or how scary and uncertain our future may be, or how heavy your grief, stress, and anxiety, God is good. Acknowledging God’s traits sometimes isn’t enough to make us look beyond our current state, and that’s okay.
Sometimes we can be too quick to dismiss real problems with trite Christian sayings. Sometimes we need to embrace the chaos and accept our current troubles. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that despite the turmoil, God is still good. Even though He didn’t prevent the pain you’re currently feeling or rescue you from it as quickly as you would hope, He is still good.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33, NIV.
Jesus speaks the undeniable truth that trouble is part of life. Let us not ignore or pretend it doesn’t hurt. Because it does. Stress, anger, confusion, despair, anxiety, fear—they’re real. Accept it. Acknowledge it. Talk to God about it. Some Christians act as if it’s wrong to complain when trouble strikes, like they need to be perpetually happy. But that isn’t realistic, nor is it biblical.
Think of the Psalms—they’re full of cries. A person struggling with the circumstances of his life and crying out to God in pain. You’ll also notice that along with complaints, the psalmist acknowledges God’s sovereignty and grace. Though he starts with the cry, he ends with praise. That doesn’t free him from the pain but it does offer hope that he will find peace.
Though your struggles bring considerable pain and feel like they won’t end, they will. God is good in that he will give you strength to carry on, He will provide grace beyond measure, He will give you peace and joy when neither seems logical.
If God is good in our good times we must believe He is still good in the bad times.
Even when life feels like it couldn’t get worse, realize that it could be. We could face that trial alone with no anticipation of overcoming it. We could be struck with illness and have no hope of healing or restoration. We could go through the ups and downs of life lacking direction and without confidence that we will prosper.
We have a God in whom we can find peace. We can take heart that He has already overcome this world. That is certainly something to be thankful for, even when life is chaotic.
Dear Lord, thank you for being with me, even when I can’t see you at work or recognize your presence. You are with me and you are good. Even though life around me is not settled, while I struggle with life’s burdens, while I can’t see past this place I’m in, I know you are here and that gives me peace. Thank you for carrying me through this. Thank you for giving me peace. Thank you that, if nothing else, I have you. Amen