I’m sorry, but Christianity is not a protection contract where you get safety and blessings in return for doing and saying the right things. It’s a devotion and a dedication to Jesus Christ that is written in blood, his, and sometimes, yours. That’s what true friends do for each other. We fight alongside Christ for the salvation of the world.
Thankfulness is a good attitude to have: it implies a giver, and an appreciation for what you have been given. (Phil. 4:6-8) As a recipient, being thankful means endorphins flow, your thinking becomes positive, your eyes are open to what you have, not what you don’t, you are more generous to others, you live in the moment, and you’re just generally nicer to be around. This works for everyone, no matter your journey of faith or your relationship with God. This attitude brings benefits whether you think the world, the universe, or fate gave you the things you have.
But, as Christians, God is calling us beyond mere thankfulness to the deeper well-spring of the sacrifice of praise. This kind of thankfulness is costly because you offer it up in the midst of and with the awareness of your hardships, pain, and suffering. You are praising God, not for what you have, but for who He is and what He is doing in and through your suffering. Following Romans 12:1 is very hard and scary until you realize that God can do a better job with your life than you can. “But”, you cry, “I praise and thank God and my life just keeps getting worse!” That might be true, but remember, Jesus’s life only got harder. But he rejoiced in his suffering for two reasons: one, because his relationship with the Father became richer and richer; and two, because he rejoiced in serving others.
Serving others and deepening your relationship with the Father are joys beyond anything you can receive or give yourself because we are in the world to be God to the world through service.
Thankfulness is appreciating what God has given you; the sacrifice of praise is thanking God for who he is making you.
Ps. 116:17: To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord.
Heb. 13:5: Through him, then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to his name.
Rom. 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.