By Fran Craig

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:16–18 [Emphasis mine]

I’d like to share a message of exhortation- an encouragement to engage in the practice of gratitude. I’ve learned from experience that it is possible to live a life of joy, prayer, and gratitude not just when life is going well, but also when times are hard, life is a mess, and it’s really hard to find anything at all to be thankful for.

I learned this truth firsthand when I was hospitalized with an antibiotic-resistant pneumonia. I had small children, and the doctor was very concerned that I wouldn’t make it. And at another point when my marriage was in deep trouble and I just didn’t know how to fix it. And at yet another point when I was left with the permanent effects of a rare viral disease that caused me to be in constant danger of falling. I am still learning as I also live with frequent pain from arthritis.

In the midst of these troubles, I have discovered a wonderful reality that I want to share with you: Yes, God really is good ALL the time!

If not for that pneumonia, Bob and I might still be enmeshed in a “christian” cult we were involved with. This group did not respond with love in our time of need, which led us to leave there and join a wonderful church where we stayed for 35 years.

If our marriage hadn’t nearly crashed and burned, Bob and I would have continued drifting along and never awakened to the fact that our relationship needed serious repair to avoid ending in divorce. Our marriage is now better and stronger than it’s ever been.

Without Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, I wouldn’t have realized what a treasure I have for a husband. Bob waited on me and took wonderful care of me for months while I healed from the virus and the viral fatigue that followed. And he continues to look out for my dizzy self.

If I weren’t plagued with arthritis, I would never have asked for help from the healing prayer ministers. Receiving prayer for my arthritis eventually led me to join the healing prayer team and experience what a joy it is to pray for others.

You see, God really has been good to me all along and I am so very grateful! Today I encourage you to look at the tough times in your life with fresh eyes and discover what God has been doing all along that is for your good, despite the bad. I’m sure you too will find many things to be grateful for. 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 [Emphasis mine]

One of the things I’m still learning to do is to thank God for his goodness before my prayers are answered, before I see what he is doing, while I’m still struggling. As I make progress in this area, I know I am growing in faith and trust in our good God.