When “Giving Thanks” isn’t so Easy

Through Him, therefore, let us at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.    Hebrews 13:15 AMP

In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP

Recently, our pastor reminded us that the season between Thanksgiving and New Years has the highest rate of depression and suicide attempts. So that means, while many of us are prepping our turkeys, gulping glasses of eggnog, eating way too many cookies or admiring a beautifully lit tree, others among us are drowning in hopelessness and despair.  All the while, watching others around them with seemingly Instagram-perfect lives. (As if that’s reality, but I digress…) Our hearts should ache for those struggling through this season.

I confess that it’s all too easy for me to give thanks when I have the blessings of a warm bed or full belly or good relationships. It takes no sacrifice to give thanks in such scenarios. But I find it does take deliberate effort to be thankful, because my default setting is to take His gifts for granted. To forget that all I have is a gift from His hand. From the breath in my lungs, to my amazing husband and our family, to the heater under our kitchen table (and strategically placed by my feet.) All of it. Gifts from Him.

I have also learned experientially the importance of giving thanks for “gifts” that, at first blush, are more like the proverbial “ugly sweater” gift. When financial challenges engulfed me, He provided and enabled me to give thanks for the few packages of Ramen noodles and can of chicken that became a casserole for five children. Or the times when relational betrayal or the pain of regret for my own bad choices laid me bare and yet He provided forgiveness and healing through my Lord Jesus. And has brought beauty from ashes.

Teaching us the invaluable lesson of giving thanks to Him in all circumstances, not just pleasant circumstances.

Then I think of those celebrating Thanksgiving Day who are behind bars or sitting at a makeshift tent-campsite or those handling funeral arrangements as they simultaneously battle the ache of grief or those coping with an all-encompassing loneliness that this season seems to amplify. When folks in such circumstances give thanks through a whispered prayer of gratitude to the Lord Jesus, it is a priceless “sacrifice of praise” that honors our God. Folks who are purposely giving thanks, even if they must search through the debris of a trial or pain, to do so.

For one moment, let’s step back from our turkey dinners and contemplate the challenges our neighbors might be walking through and consider what a sacrifice it may be for them to utter the words, “Thank you, God.”

Have you ever been there? Are you there now? Is there a person who comes to mind as you read these words? As we celebrate this special day, set aside to give thanks to God for His great blessings, in whatever form they come, let’s remember those struggling the season. Pray. Reach out. Be a blessing. Let’s be His hands and feet to all He puts in our path. There is hope. And it is found in Jesus Christ.

“As a matter of fact, God isn’t asking you to be thankful. He’s asking you to give thanks. There’s a big difference. One response involves emotions, the other your choices, your decisions about a situation, your intent, your ‘step of faith.’”

– Joni Eareckson Tada

Happy Thanksgiving!

Father, I am in awe of the gifts You’ve so freely given. Life. Salvation. Breath. Genuine hope because of Christ. Help me to remember, and not forget, Your good hand of favor on my life. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen

Written by Becky White for the Lord Jesus

Click here to purchase a hard copy or download a FREE pdf of the devotional, Stony Paths learning to trust Him as we walk the Stony Paths of real life.

You may also purchase Stony Paths, learning to Trust Him as we walk the Stony Paths of real life, by visiting Lulu Publishing or Amazon.

Published by devotionsfordifficultdays

Becky White is a contributing author to Whispers of Wisdom for Single Mom's and Every Good and Perfect Gift, both Published by Barbour Publishing. She contributed to The Complete Guide to Christian Quotations, also by Barbour. She has written devotions for Quiet Hour magazine of the David C. Cook Publishing Company along with daily devotions titled Daily Bread Crumbs for an internet radio program. Her first published work was a poem in a 2007 edition of the BGEA Decision magazine. In addition, Becky has self-published an auto biography titled Come Forth as Gold and a booklet titled Adversity. Becky and her husband attend Rock City Church and serve together at Columbus Dream Center as well as writing a weekly devotion for her blog, Devotions for Difficult Days. The Whites have a family of seven grown children and eight grandchildren and make their home in Columbus, Ohio.

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