20 Things to Thank God for in the Midst of Adversity
Often, when people become Christians, they think all adversity will supernaturally disappear. Yet when adversity does befall them, their first thought may be, “But I am a Christian now. My life should be easy.”
Aaron Wilson, of Lifeway Research, says, “…if Christians say following Jesus is easy, they risk downplaying the Lord’s warning to count the cost of discipleship.”
Jesus, as He prepared His disciples for His departure, told them they would have tribulation in the world, but in Him they would have peace, because He has overcome the world (John 16:32-33). Tribulation is another word for adversity, and believers aren’t immune to it in this life.
But how and why are we to thank God in the midst of it?
Why Should We Still Be Thankful in Adversity?
In the core of adversity, we wonder why we are to be thankful.
The Bible tells us to give thanks always, for everything “to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 5:20). Always and for everything.
We will consider why and how.
First and foremost, we are thankful because God is God, and He never changes. No matter what strikes us, He is. (That’s not a typo. See Exodus 3:14, James 1:17, and Hebrews 13:8). We can rest in Who He is and be thankful because we are made in His image and because throughout every adversity He allows, He is changing us from one degree of glory to another or to mold us more and more into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29a; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
God is always working, doing wondrous things. He tells us in Romans 8:28 all things work together for the good of those who love God— “to those who are called according to His purpose.” That’s more than reason enough to be thankful.
God is faithful. We can trust Him in the midst of the worst situations—the worst. Why? Because Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16), and He holds the keys to Death and Hades (Revelation 1:18). He’s got everything and everyone covered.
Colossians 1:10-14 adds more to our marvelous reasons to be thankful, “so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Consider Job, a man God referred to as blameless and upright (Job 1:8). God allowed Satan to strip Job of his children, servants, and property. When he was told of the calamities, Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). God also allowed Satan to inflict Job with “loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head” (Job 2:7). Through this, plus the adversity of a wife who told him to curse God and die, and three friends who pointed their fingers at him, claiming he must have sinned to garner such retribution from God, Job did not sin (Job 1:22, 2:10).
One of our lessons is we don’t know everything going on in heaven. Some things we won’t know until we get there.
Also consider the Apostle Paul, who received thirty-nine lashes from the Jews, five times. He was beaten with rods three times, stoned once, shipwrecked thrice, adrift at sea, in dangerous rivers, in danger from robbers and from his own people and Gentiles. He found himself in danger in cities, the wilderness, at sea, and from false brothers. He continues, “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:24-28).
How did Paul react to all of this? On the heels of the above witness to his sufferings, Paul pleaded with the Lord to have the thorn in his flesh removed, he reports how the Lord answered him, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In the next verse (2 Corinthians 12:10), Paul said, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Our lesson? With our eyes and hearts fixed on Jesus, we are content in whatever situation we find ourselves.
What Does Thanksgiving Look Like?
Thanksgiving continues through good times and hard times. We don’t need to stop what we are doing, for thanksgiving is a heart attitude. In giving thanks to God, we are expectant God will use our circumstances for His glory and our good. And we give more back to God than our tithes. He tells us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him (Romans 12:1), acknowledging all He has done for us and serving Him by loving and abiding in Christ, walking in His Word, and serving others (among other things).
Bible Verses to Encourage You in the Midst of Adversity
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
“Is anything too hard for the LORD?” (Genesis 18:14).
“Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Ephesians 6:10-20 tells us to take up the whole armor of God. That’s His protection and righteousness.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you” (1 Peter 5:8-10).
“For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:29).
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
20 Things to Thank God For in the Midst of Adversity
We can thank God for:
1. His Sovereignty; nothing takes Him by surprise (His will).
2. Being able to trust Him, for He is faithful.
3. That we are not alone, for wherever each day takes us, He is already there and He will be right there with us.
4. Discipline, because God disciplines those He loves, for His glory and for our good.
5. Prayer—that He deigns to listen to our pleas.
6. The prayers of other believers on our behalf (spiritual and/or physical healing), and on behalf of those we either wronged or who have wronged us.
7. His Word, which reveals all we need to live a life of godliness (even in affliction).
8. His truth.
9. His patience.
10. His grace.
11. The assurance of our salvation.
12. His mercy. When we have wronged someone, adversity strikes us in conviction. When we go to our Father with a broken and contrite heart, His mercy floods us as He restores us.
13. The trials through which He enables us to suffer.
14. The many examples throughout Scripture of men and women who did not lose heart but instead, looked to the Lord for peace and for what’s to come.
15. Conforming us into the image of His Son.
16. The lessons we learn that God will use as we encourage others.
17. Keeping us humble.
18. Reminders to stay spiritually aware of the wiles of the evil one.
19: His church.
20. His unfailing love.
We sometimes equate our adversity with the fiery furnace faced by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego Daniel 3:19-26). That fire was burning seven times hotter than normal, and the king saw a fourth man in the fire with the young Hebrews, one who looked like “a son of the gods.”
The three men came out of the fire as if they’d never gone in, and scholars believe the fourth “man” was a Theophany, God Himself.
Not to over-spiritualize our issues, but for the most part, life’s adversities are our fiery furnaces. But we can rest assured no matter where each day takes us, God is already there and He will be right there beside us (Deuteronomy 31:6-8).
Photo credit: Unsplash/Priscilla du Preez
Lisa Loraine Baker is the multiple award-winning author of Someplace to be Somebody (End Game Press – Feb. 2022). She writes fiction and nonfiction and her current works-in-progress include a children’s picture book to accompany Someplace to be Somebody and a Christmas story anthology. Also, she and her husband are writing a Christian living book. In addition to writing for the Salem Web Network, Lisa serves as a Word Weavers’ mentor and is part of a critique group. She also is a member of AWSA and BRRC. Lisa and her husband, Stephen, a pastor, live in a small Ohio village with their crazy cat, Lewis.