“Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous; sing, all you who are upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11).

Ben Patterson asserts that our giving thanks to God no matter what is “a spiritual discipline and habit of joy that is profoundly transforming.” Philippians 5:17-18 says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” and Thessalonians 5:17-18 says, “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances.” Patterson gives three reasons why these verses powerfully work joy in us.

First, it releases us from the sin of ingratitude, that root of evil and rebellion against God. When the Israelites kept bitterly complaining about god’s provisions, they cut themselves off from His blessing and from the Promised Land. Our complaints and ingratitude are far more than peccadilloes—they are deep offenses against God’s sacrificial care and redemption.

Second, giving thanks affirms hope. We may find ourselves in difficult or even dreadful circumstances, but like a dark or even terrifying movie that ends with a glorious finale, we look forward with hope. 2 Corinthians 4:17 says that our present troubles produce in us a glory that vastly outweighs those troubles and will last forever. We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth. There, all we have gone through will be put into perspective.

Third, praising in all circumstances is defiance against the forces arrayed against us, God defiantly triumphed over guilt and death in the Resurrection. Peterson says, “If God’s grace is defiant, then our gratitude should also be defiant.”

Adapted from “The One Year Book of Encouragement”