Giving Thanks for the Trials of Life

Ed Jones

It’s that time of year when we’re reminded to be thankful. One of my favorite hymns is “Give Thanks.” The easy-to-remember lyrics are, “Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son.”

I find it incredibly easy to give thanks when everything goes well; however, it is so much more beneficial to give thanks for the trials of life. Every once in a while, I find myself praying for persecution. I’m sure some find that strange or even repulsive. I pray for trials, because I don’t spend much time in fervent prayer when everything is going according to my desires. Praying during times of blessing is wonderful. Praying during times of trial proves our trust and love for the Savior.

Elisabeth Elliot was one of the 20th century’s most well-known missionaries. In 1956 she was living in Ecuador, reaching unchurched tribal peoples, when her husband Jim Elliot and five other missionaries were killed by the Auca tribal people of Eastern Ecuador. Instead of leaving Ecuador, she persevered there for seven more years, giving up the right to leave for her own safety. Over time, the Auca people were reached for Christ as a result of Elisabeth’s perseverance. (See the movie End of the Spear).

By God’s grace, I had the good fortune to meet her a few years before she died. She was as gracious as you might expect, with a smile that reflected love and peace.

Jesus taught in Matthew 10:39 that “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” We are reminded to be thankful for what we have on Thanksgiving Day each year. But how can we truly experience everyday thankfulness as a follower of Christ? We must daily choose to give up our life … surrender our self-satisfying ambitions (Black Friday?) to follow Christ’s plan for everyday life (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

When we give up our life to know Christ’s way of life, we discover Joy for everyday living, Peace during life’s struggles, Hope for a future eternity in Christ, and Love for God’s people to see all nations come to know Christ as Savior.

Elisabeth Elliot discovered God’s promise of grace by giving up her life. She thanked God through many trials. Is your thankfulness rooted in finding Christ’s way of life?

Ed Jones pastors Fellowship at the Ranch at Robson Ranch. This nondenominational church meets at the Robson clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Visit Fellowship’s website,, for information.