Gratitude in hard times

‘Give thanks in all circumstances this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ is a tough one to digest while going through a difficult time. However, in every facet of our lives, regardless of the circumstances we encounter, it is paramount to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. This practice not only resonates with God’s will, as outlined in Thessalonians 5, verse 16, but it also fosters a deeper connection with our faith and spirituality. Even in the throes of adversity, when the weight of trials and tribulations threatens to overwhelm us, adhering to this principle can be profoundly transformative. Consider the poignant example of Son Yang-Won, a venerable Korean pastor whose life epitomises the remarkable influence of gratitude in the face of insurmountable challenges.


Despite enduring the hardships of colonial oppression and grappling with personal tragedies, Son Yang-Won remained steadfast in his commitment to spreading love and ministering to his community. His unwavering dedication and selflessness testify to the enduring power of faith amidst adversity. One particularly poignant moment in Son Yang-Won’s narrative is his response to the tragic loss of his sons, who were martyred for their beliefs. Rather than succumbing to despair or bitterness, Son Yang-Won offered a prayer of gratitude at their funeral, a gesture that speaks volumes about his unwavering faith and trust in a higher purpose.


In this act of profound spiritual fortitude, Son Yang-Won demonstrated his conviction that even in the face of unimaginable loss, there exists a divine plan that transcends human understanding. By emulating the example set forth by Son Yang-Won, we are reminded of the transformative potential inherent in the practice of gratitude. It is through expressing thanks, even in the midst of life’s greatest trials, that we not only honour the will of God but also elevate ourselves above the challenges that threaten to engulf us. In doing so, we bring glory to God and inspire others to embrace a similar ethos of resilience and faith.


Here is the prayer of nine gratitude by Revd Yang-Won Son at the funeral service for two sons who were martyred by a mob of rebels.

  1. I thank the Lord for producing sons of martyrdom from the blood of a sinner like me.
  2. I thank the Lord for choosing me among so many believers to have the privilege of caring for these beautiful treasures.
  3. I thank the Lord for letting me offer up my eldest and my second eldest sons, the most beloved of three boys and three girls.
  4. They say it is precious to have a son who is martyred, still more, I thank the Lord that my two sons were martyred together.
  5. They say it is blessing enough to believe in Jesus and die a peaceful death, but I thank the Lord for letting my sons be shot to death while carrying out the work of evangelism.
  6. My eldest son was preparing to study abroad in the U.S., but I thank the Lord because my heart is relieved to know he and my second son went to heaven, a better place than America.
  7. I thank the Lord for giving me a loving heart with which to lead my enemy to repentance and embrace him as my son.
  8. I am thankful because I believe that the martyrdom of my two sons will bear countless fruits of heaven.

Gratitude is a posture that helps us transcend above the challenging circumstances that might discourage us. It also keeps us grounded during the good times that could make us forget the true source of our blessings.

Revd Dr Girma Bishaw



  1. ‘The Atomic bomb of love’ written by An Yong-jum and translated by Peter S. Kim. The KIATS Press 2009.