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When Thankfulness is Hard

Updated: May 6, 2023


"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB)


Have you ever had a hard time being thankful?


Sometimes people make it sound as though it should be so easy to be grateful and that if you're not it's because you're sinning or have a horrible attitude. But what do you do when you're tired and hurting when you look around and are saddened by the sin and destruction in our world?


What does it mean to, as 1 Thessalonians says, give thanks in everything?


I'm a small town, nature loving girl. Being outdoors, immersed by God's creation refreshes me like nothing else. Unhindered views of land and sky remind me of how vast, present, and beautiful God is. I feel joyful, free, and so very connected to Him. My worries and fears fade, replaced by a steady confidence that God is working all things to His good.


But now I live in Albuquerque, a city where I often feel like I'm suffocating in a prison of nameless people, never-ending traffic, and countless buildings. This environment spiritually wears me down, and there are days when I can't find anything to appreciate about this place.


So, what does it mean to give thanks in everything? Do I have to be happy about the crime? Or the frequent traffic accidents? Or the greater difficulty in finding a steady, consistent community? Must I now rejoice in not being able to bask in the sight of open land and sky?


What did Paul mean?


As I pondered this question, another passage came to mind. Romans 5:3-5 says. "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (NASB)


Paul's hope and his thankfulness were founded firmly in the love of God that flooded his heart through the Holy Spirit.

Paul understood discomfort and how it felt to suffer and land in situations where we would think there was no earthly way for him to be thankful. Was he grateful for the sin and evil of the world that brought about those incidents? Probably not. But he still discovered how to have hope and give thanks. He did this by recognizing that in every circumstance. God was with him, strengthening and providing for him.


Paul's hope and his thankfulness were founded firmly in the love of God that flooded his heart through the Holy Spirit.


I don't think I will ever enjoy the city as much as small towns and an open countryside. But I am learning to recognize and appreciate the gifts God has brought me while I've lived here. I met my husband and gave birth to three healthy daughters. Amid the numerous, faceless people, God introduced me to some wonderful friends and directed me to an excellent Christian school for my girls to attend. While part of me would still love to live elsewhere, I can no longer deny the blessings God has showered me with in the place where I'm at.


What about you? (Share your thoughts below!)


Are there circumstances in your life for which you struggle to be thankful?


Where can you see God's goodness in the midst of your challenges?


With God's Love,


Jenny Fulton

Fresh Expressions Writing Group Leader

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