My husband told me I should not only praise God in my troubles but for my troubles. I think he is right and this now ends a lifelong internal debate on the subject.
I listened to my husband's advice (because he never gives counsel that he doesn't follow himself) and I praised God for a present suffering in my life. The moment I tried it out in my mouth and said the words with my lips I knew I had broken new ground spiritually. It felt like something I had never done before. I believe it pushed out the boundaries of my spiritual life a few yards farther than they had ever gone before. There will be no going back.
Let me try to analyze this for myself as I analyze it for you: As I was praising and thanking God for this exquisite sorrow, I was thereby removing it from the clammy, dark womb of my life that I keep hidden from God. I was bringing it into the light and up to Him. He and I were now looking at the suffering together and considering it together. No more secret gardens, no more hiding.
No more hopelessness, either. For the sorrow and the "impossibility" were now in God's court-where there are no impossibilities. And I was releasing it into His hands and reminding Him that He is the One who spoke through the prophets of His delight in bending impossibilities:
"Is anything too hard for the LORD?" (Genesis 18:14)
"Nothing is too hard for [God]" (Jeremiah 32:17).
"For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).
Giving thanks in all circumstances is expressly commanded, of course:
"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Giving thanks and praise for all circumstances is more subtly derived:
"Blessed are you when others revile you. … Rejoice and be glad …" (Matthew 5:11-12).
But notice, as that verse continues, that God gives a good reason why rejoicing in such circumstances is not the folly of fanatics:
"… for your reward is great in heaven"
That is the reward in heaven. There is also a reward on earth for praising God when you are stuck in a miserable trial:
"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" (James 1:2-4).
This is the "payoff" in the present life for those who really take God at His word to praise Him and thank Him for their trials. Such people are aware that it is the very trials that, when worked through with a believing heart, are transforming them into a glorious stallion of faith, suitable for God's use.