It's easy to be thankful when things are working out well. But what about the times when everything that can go wrong has already gone wrong, and nothing else is going right?
Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said it is important to develop a sense of gratitude especially during the times "when things don't make sense, when you can't figure it out, when your prayers are unanswered, when life stinks, when everything is going the way you didn't want it to go." He explained that it is through gratitude that Christians can develop their faith.
"Anybody can thank God for good things. But when you can thank God even in the bad things, your faith grows and your spiritual roots go deeper," he wrote on his devotional.
Warren shared the story of the prophet Habakkuk from the Bible, who went through an extremely difficult time when his fields were not producing any food and he had no sheep in the pen or cattle in the stalls. Habakkuk still chose to rejoice in the Lord during that time, because God is his Savior. Everything else in his life might be falling apart, but God was still there by his side.
"Habakkuk could say, 'Everything else stinks in life, but I can be grateful, because the Lord is my Savior. He will pull me out. He'll bring me through this. I'm not on my own. He hasn't abandoned me. I will still give thanks to God,'" said Warren.
Warren added that this is actually the ultimate test of faith - thanking God when life stinks. "That's the test of how deep your spiritual roots go," he said.
By having a grateful spirit, Warren said that Christians can start a ministry of appreciation. Every believer is a minister, he said, so when they act thankful to those around them, they raise the value of people.
"When you appreciate your husband, you raise his value. When you appreciate your wife, you raise her value. When you appreciate your kids, you raise their value. When you appreciate your co-workers, you raise their value to you and to the company. When you appreciate your boss, you raise his or her value," he said.