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17 May 2021

Choosing Gratitude When Life is Hard

It’s easy to be thankful when life is good.

We’ve all heard this message before. I don’t know about you, but every time I’m reminded of this, I suddenly feel ashamed, because most times I only give thanks in the good times. Think about it – how often do we give thanks when our life is going well compared with when it’s going terribly?

I knew someone who told me that every day, for as long as he could remember, the first thing he would do when he woke up each morning was thank God for a good night of rest. Then as he got ready for work, he would sing in his head, “This is the day that the LORD has made – I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Even on his worst days, he would do this. He had made a habit of being thankful no matter what, because he knew that God was always taking care of him, even when it felt otherwise.

We often struggle with choosing gratitude during hardships. In a chapter from his forthcoming book, The Grace of Gratitude, Paul Mallard uses the Israelites and their 40–year journey through the desert as an example. They griped, complained, and grew angry with God; yet, as Mallard says, God was “always faithful” to them. He provided them with manna from the heavens and water from the rock. Somehow, the Israelites would still return to whining. They lost sight of the good that God had provided in their suffering.

In the face of loss and grief, sickness and pain, or emotional turmoil that drains us of all hope, it may seem impossible to wake up with a good attitude and give thanks to God. But Mallard uses a metaphor which the psalmist in Psalms 66:10 wrote: “You refined us like silver.”

“A lump of rock is of little value,” Mallard writes, “but imagine that I discover a sliver of silver in it. What do I do? I crush it and put it into a furnace in order to remove the dross and to produce the silver. This is what God is doing when he tests us.”

He goes on to say, “Sometimes the furnace will have to be very hot indeed for him to achieve his desired goal.”

Just as God led the Israelites through difficulty to the Promised Land, He will always draw us from the flames of the furnace and place us, “refined” and stronger than before, just where we are supposed to be. We can be certain that God is always caring for us. For this reason, we can give thanks in our suffering.

Pre–order Mallard’s book, The Grace of Gratitude, here.

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