One of the most important things we must do when we suffer is to give thanks. I don’t say this lightly and I know many believers who have endured unimaginable pain and tragedy. Giving thanks in the midst of agony and affliction is certainly not easy to do.
Yet Ephesians 5:20 tells us we should give thanks “always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” and 1 Thess 5:18 says to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Giving thanks helps us focus on God in our affliction, steers us away from complaining, strengthens our faith, and brings glory to Jesus.
There are many things we can give thanks for when we suffer, but here are 12 that I try to remember:
1) That God is sovereign and in complete control of the intensity and the duration of your affliction.
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose’ Is 46:9-10
2) That God’s love and mercies never cease
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lam 3:22-23
3) That Jesus will never leave nor forsake you.
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb 13:5
4) That God is with you in your affliction
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Is 43:2
5) That God hears your every prayer
The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry. Ps 34:15
When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles. Ps 34:17
6) That God is using this affliction to make you like Christ.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Romans 8:28–29
7) That this affliction is momentary and light compared to the eternal reward it is producing
For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison… 2 Cor 4:17
8) That Jesus is your sympathetic High Priest who intercedes for you constantly
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Heb 4:15
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Heb 7:25
9) That God is near you in your pain
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit. Ps 34:18
10) That Jesus is your refuge, strength, and strong tower you can run to.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Ps 46:1, ESV
The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe. Pr 18:10
11) That God has saved you, washed away your sins, and adopted you as his own child.
Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Rom 4:7
12) That someday Jesus will wipe away every tear from your eyes and you will see his glorious face.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Rev 21:4
Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter. Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.