7 Thanking God in Difficult Times Bible Verses

“In everything give thanks…” Really? Everything? This exhortation from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 seems idealistic, yet impossible. How are we supposed to be thankful to God for everything? It must be an unrealistic expectation. 

Years ago, our family went through a long season of severe financial strain. It wasn’t uncommon for me to feed our children popcorn for supper because I didn’t have anything else to give them. Did God really expect me to be sincerely grateful for this?

After reading many thanking God in difficult times Bible verses, I’m convinced God wants our expressions of gratitude to spill out of genuinely thankful hearts—no matter what our circumstances may be. But God’s Word tells us how and why

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What Does the Bible Say About Giving Thanks in Hard Times?

How can I be thankful in times of trouble? It’s a common question, and a quick online search will give you millions of answers. We can also get some ideas from a few people in the Bible who were thankful in the midst of difficulty.  

Jonah was in rebellion against God, so God had him swallowed by a fish. Imagine the stench! Yet it took stubborn Jonah three whole days and nights to repent of his sin. Deep in that dark belly, hungry and humbled, Jonah prayed to God “with the voice of thanksgiving (Jonah 2:9a)” even though he didn’t know God would command the fish to—ahem—”release” Jonah.

In his youth, Daniel was taken from his home and held captive in a foreign country where they made a law forbidding the worship of God. But Daniel was faithful, and even though he knew he was risking his life, he prayed and thanked God three times a day, just as he’d always done (Daniel 6:10).

As a prisoner under Roman guard, the apostle Paul was on a ship with his captors when a violent storm overtook them. The men didn’t eat for two whole weeks as the ship was tossed around the raging sea. When they’d given up all hope of being saved, Paul thanked God for what they believed would be their last meal—a small remnant of bread.  

Was Jonah thankful that he was living inside a fish? Was Daniel thankful to be captive in a land where his faith put his life in danger? Was Paul thankful for starvation and stormy seas? No, no, and no. 

These men didn’t thank God for their circumstances; they thanked God in their circumstances. Jonah thanked God because he knew God was his Savior. Daniel had developed an unwavering discipline of thanking God for His character (Daniel 2:2-9). And Paul thanked God for His provision of their “last” meal.  

The God who was worthy of Jonah’s thanks, Daniel’s thanks, and Paul’s thanks is still worthy of thanks today. We can thank Him for who He is even if we’re not thankful for the situation we’re in. 


7 Thanking God in Difficult Times Bible Verses

Scripture has much more to say about thanking God when life is hard.

God has given many Bible verses we can turn to for comfort and peace and great reminders that we can indeed thank God even in the most difficult times of life. Here are just 7 such Bible passages.

  1. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  2. Philippians 4:6-7
  3. James 1:2-4
  4. Romans 5:3-5
  5. 1 Peter 4:12-19
  6. John 16:33
  7. Psalm 107:1

Let’s take a closer look at these inspiring passages.

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

When we’re living according to God’s will, we’re in the best possible situation. And this Bible verse tells us that being thankful to God in everything is His will for us. So if we can’t thank Him for any other reason, we should thank Him as an act of faith and obedience.   

watercolor swirl background text overlay 1 Thessalonians 5:16
  • Philippians 4:6-7

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

In difficult times, there’s nothing we value more than peace. And this Bible verse promises us peace when we pray to God with thanksgiving.

We can “make supplication,” or make requests of Him, but do it with an attitude of gratitude for Who He is. He is faithful, so when we pray, we can be thankful that He’s a God who keeps His promises. 

  • James 1:2-4

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”

I’ve never met a person who thinks they have enough patience! James assures us that our trials are accomplishing something we want—they’re making us more patient and growing Godly character in us. We can thank Him for His refining work in our lives. 

  • Romans 5:3-5

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Paul has the same message for us as James! He says that tribulations—literally “stresses”—produce patience (or endurance). Our experience shapes our character and cultivates hope in the unfailing love of God and the presence of His Spirit in our lives. 

  • 1 Peter 4:12-19

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: … on your part he is glorified. … Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. … Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”

These thanking God in difficult times Bible verses are important for us because they warn us to endure suffering righteously—that is, in right standing with God. We must not give in to sin and temptation when the going gets tough, because that only leads to worse suffering. 

As followers of Jesus Christ, we’re guaranteed suffering, but we can thank God for our hardship when it’s a result of living a life of obedience to Him. Suffering for Christ is suffering with Christ—it deepens our relationship with Him, makes us more like Him, and glorifies Him. 

single flower text overlay thanking God in difficult times Bible verse 1 Thessalonians 5:18
  • John 16:33

“These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

It’s a comfort that Jesus knew we’d have difficulties. To give us assurance, Jesus, in effect, tells us that when life gets hard, we should take heart because He’s already overcome it all! He’s won the battle!

Now that’s something to be thankful for!

  • Psalm 107:1

“O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.”

If there’s nothing else to be thankful for, we can always thank God for His goodness and faithfulness to His people in the past. Psalm 107 is a whole chapter recounting God’s character displayed in the salvation of His people.

And that same character—that love for us—endures today!

If there’s nothing else to be thankful for, we can always thank God for His goodness and faithfulness to His people.

What Happens When We Praise God in Difficult Times?

My own experience has taught me that thanking God in the midst of challenges might not change the situation, but it definitely changes me. I’ve heard that you can’t worry and worship at the same time, and I’ve found it to be true. 

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

During our season of financial difficulty, my faith was faltering and I was weary to the core. Desperately, I cried out to God for a fresh infusion of hope. 

The next chapter in my Bible reading plan was Joshua 4, which tells the story of the Israelites setting up “stones of remembrance” to remind future generations of God’s faithfulness to His people. I decided our family needed reminders, too, so I started a “stones of remembrance” notebook. We kept a written record of every penny of provision and anything worthy of praise.

Our circumstances didn’t improve for many months. But our experience in those circumstances changed. Our perspective changed. As I praised God for who He is, my problems shrunk in light of His power. Peace, joy, and hope replaced anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. 

It’s just like the familiar hymn: 

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face, 

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, 

In the light of His glory and grace.”

Helen H. Lemmel
leafy tree limbs text overlay with thanking God in difficult times Bible verse Psalms 107:1

We may struggle with giving thanks to God for everything, but we can develop a habit of giving thanks to God in everything. These thanking God in difficult times Bible verses are just the reminders we need to help us look to God instead of our circumstances.

In hard times it is important to remember that God is worthy of our praise. He is faithful. And when we look for evidence of His handiwork, we see it all around us. 

Your circumstances might be difficult right now, but our God is still the same God who delivered Jonah from the fish, Daniel from the lion’s den, and Paul from the storm. Thanking God in difficult times is possible because of who He is—the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).

We all need help remembering to rejoice and be thankful. Download these 4 free phone lock screens containing some of the above thanking God in difficult times Bible verses to keep you focusing on God’s nearness and blessings.

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RELATED POST: 22 Perfect Bible Verses for Thank You Cards

About the Author – Jana Carlson

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Jana Carlson is a writer, Bible teacher, and mentor who desires to wield the Word for God’s glory. Her writing, resources, and workshops inspire women to love God’s Word and experience its transforming power for every season of life. Connect with her at janacarlson.com.

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