Sometimes an old truth will catch you unawares. This happened to me as I was listening to a sermon by Bryan Hughes from Grace Bible Church in Montana. While speaking on 2. Timothy 3:1-5, he pointed out the following: 1. Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) It is God’s will that we give thanks in everything. If we do not do so, we are sinning against God. This is clarified by Romans 1:21 where one of the reasons God punishes those who have turned away from him, is because they did not “give thanks” (NASB). Additionally, one of the marks of this evil age and “difficult times” is the fact that people are “ungrateful” (2Ti. 3:2 – NASB).
God does not take our lack of thankfulness lightly. As a matter of fact, it is a great enough sin that He punishes it most severely! Looking back on the previous year, I realized that I have been incredibly ungrateful. It was not merely a failure to offer a “sacrifice of praise” (Ps. 50:23 – NIV) in times of difficulty, but a negative attitude that flowed over onto my wife and manifested itself in words as well as my simply being a grouch. God made it very clear through this sermon that I needed to repent of this attitude of thanklessness and to fulfill His will for me by being grateful, especially when it is difficult.
As if to underline that point, God then brought another revelation regarding this concept while listening to a sermon in church a few weeks later. The pastor was speaking about how God left various Canaanite people in the land, so that the next generation of Israelites would learn how to fight and so God could test them as to whether they would keep His commandments (Jdg. 3:1-4). As the pastor expounded on this, God made it clear to me that when He allows difficulties in my life, He is testing me and teaching me how to do battle against my natural discontent and be thankful in all things. I am still only beginning to learn these things and need much prayer and support to get there; but my hope is that God will use my willingness to be thankful and give be a truly grateful heart.