American society frequently uses the phrase “thank God.” More often than not, the phrase is used for a meaningless event in one’s life. “Thank God!” when a favorite show is ready to start a new season, and “thank God!” when the wait at a restaurant is short. Other times, it is used appropriately by Christians who recognize the good things that God has furnished. When a promotion has been given to a Christian, it might be said, “thank God, God has really blessed this family.” When a streak of good health has occurred, the Christian might say, “thank God, I have had such good health.” God is to be appreciated for the “good things” in our lives (Jas. 1:17), but how do we respond when “bad things” happen. Is God to be praised when one suffers financial loss, decline of health, the loss of a loved one, or some other hardship?
Paul declared, “Blessed be God” (2 Cor. 1:3a). The word blessed means “adoration, gratitude, and praise.” In the book of Psalms benedictions such as “blessed be his glorious name forever” (72:19) and “let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD” (150:6) are commonly found. Similar statements of praise, as this passage indicates, are also found in the New Testament (Eph. 1:3; 1 Pet. 1:3). God should be thanked regardless of our circumstances, because He is Deity. As Job rightly declared, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
God is to be praised, because He is “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (3b). Several instances during His incarnation Jesus Christ refers to God as His God and His Father (Matt. 27:46; John 20:17). Lenski wrote, “For Jesus in his human nature God is God, and for Jesus in his deity God is his Father; his God since the incarnation, his Father from all eternity” (814). God is to be praised regardless of our current physical circumstance, because He is the Father of OUR Lord Jesus Christ. Without God’s divine will to save mankind (John 3:16), Christianity would not exist. Christianity cannot exist without Christ. God acted on our behalf and delivered His perfect Son to die on the cross for our spiritual well-being and made Him Lord and Christ (Heb. 4:15; Acts 2:36). It is in Christ that all spiritual blessings are found (Eph. 1:3; Rom. 6:3-8).
Finally Paul wrote that God is, “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (1:3c). Notice the contrast, between Paul’s inspired Words and what is often the thinking of men. We often praise God for the good, but fail to thank God for helping us cope, overcome, and benefit from the “bad.” Paul was acquainted with pain and suffering associated with His ministry (2 Cor. 1:8-11; Acts 19:23; 1 Cor. 15:31; 2 Cor. 11:20-28; 12:10). He could have blamed God and determined that God was not worthy of his praise; instead, he praised God for helping him overcome his suffering. God, after all, is the “Father of mercies.” The word “mercies” means “pity” (BDAG). One is reminded of the words found in Psalm 103:13-14, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Like an earthly father, God watches His sons (1 John 3:1-2) confronted with pain, suffering, and challenge and is moved with compassion (Matt. 7:7-11). He, the Maker, looks at His product and has pity as He witnesses it depreciating (Job 10:9; Heb. 9:27). Paul continued with this description, “the God of all comfort.” God is not remote from His people. He is not like a rich man who might look at a poor man from afar and “pity” him but do nothing for him. God’s pity moves Him to “comfort” or “encourage,” (BDAG) literally, “to call to His side” those who are struggling. He is the God of “all” comfort, because the comfort that He extends is adequate for every circumstance. One might ask, “How does/can God comfort the Christian?” To name a few, God comforts through prayer (Phil. 3:6-7), hope of a better place (1 Cor. 15:19), the Holy Scriptures (1 Thess. 4:18), and faithful Christians (2 Cor. 1:4). God is to be praised because He is compassionate and comforts us in every circumstance!
Sufferers, whatever the obstacle you are facing, please do not give up on God. Yes, God deserves to be thanked when things are “going well.” He is the source of all that is good in your life. Yet, He also deserves to be praised during difficult circumstances. He is Deity, the Father of OUR Lord, and the Father of mercies and ALL comfort. Let us continue to “thank God” the right way and for all the right reasons. Don’t give up on God, because God will not give up on you (2 Pet. 3:9). Yet I Trust.