Q: Our pastor gave a sermon recently about how we ought to thank God for everything. But how can we be thankful when bad things happen to us? I’m fighting cancer right now, and I admit I don’t feel very thankful. If anything, I feel angry and depressed. —C.S.
A: Your pastor was right; we should be thankful to God for everything that happens to us, both good and bad. The Bible says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
But is this realistic, or even possible? Yes it is, once we understand why we should be thankful. Take your situation, for example. Cancer is a terrible disease, and we aren’t called to be thankful for things that are evil. But you can be thankful that God has promised to be with you, even when life isn’t the way you wish it were. We are never alone when we know Christ! God’s promise is true: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
We also can be thankful for the hope we have because of Jesus Christ. Hopefully you’ll be cured, and you certainly should pray this will happen. But death comes eventually to us all, and when we know Christ, we know we will be with him in heaven forever. Even in life’s hardest times, we have hope.
If you have never done so, turn to Christ and ask him to come into your life. Then thank him every day that he is with you, and ahead of you is heaven. Sometimes even life’s hardest times become a blessing, because through them we discover God’s love for us. The Bible says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).
Write to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201 or go to BillyGraham.org.