Monday, November 24, 2014


So, here we are – Thanksgiving Week.  (Already??)

I don't know about you, but it seems this year has gone by awfully fast.

And as I approach the coming new year, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the concept of thankfulness.

It's defined this way:  Aware and appreciative of a benefit; grateful.

That's easy enough when something wonderful happens.  But what about when it doesn't?  What does it mean to be thankful when things go wrong?

I'm specifically thinking of this verse:

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)

I really have a hard time with this verse.  To be totally honest, thankfulness doesn't come naturally to me.  Oh sure, I'm always quick to say thank you when someone does something nice for me.  I'm pretty consistent saying grace before meals.  And yes, I am grateful for my blessings.

But, am I grateful for my trials?

Um, not so much.

That's why this verse gives me trouble.

It's that one pesky word…ALL.

Be thankful in ALL circumstances?

I can think of many circumstances that try our patience, wound our hearts, challenge our understanding, and crush our spirits.

The death of a loved one.

A broken relationship.

Losing a job.

A prodigal child.

Poor health.

Financial worries.

I do not feel thankful for these things – do you?

So why are we told to be thankful in all things?  And if we are called to it, is it impossible to achieve?

I have this one thought as to why it might be important:

We are most attractive as Christians when we look different from the world.

And we never look more different from the world than when we have trials and we don't fall apart.

Yes, this is part of why we are called to be thankful – so that we might be set apart, separated from the worldin it, but not of it.

God wants us to look different.  He wants us to reflect the Truth of what we believe.  

These things:

The world is full of sin.
Sin brings disease, dysfunction, despair, defeat, and death.
Jesus came, died, rose again, and conquered these things.
Because of that, there is something better ahead.
Therefore, we have hope.

This is what the Lord wants us to live out in our lives.  This is what He wants us to show to the world.

There is an answer to the suffering – Jesus – and because of Him, we can live above our circumstances.

And yes, for that I am very grateful.

Now, the second part of that verse is interesting to me:

"…for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."

I actually read that two ways.  Two interpretations that I think are both accurate in their intent, and in their meaning.

First of all, we are to give thanks for it is God's will for us to be thankful. And we can only be thankful when we place ourselves in proper position with our God.

Adopting a humbleness of spirit, recognizing our subordinate position as creatures beneath Him, our Creator.  Intentionally submitting ourselves to His omnipotence and omniscience.  Surrendering our will to His perfect purposes.

It is God's will for us to trust Him with our lives.  To believe that He is perfectly good, even when life is not.  To rely on His strength and power.  To follow Him and not our feelings.

So, in ALL circumstances, He desires that we be thankful.

He wants us to look different from the world, to yield ourselves to His sovereignty, and to trust Him even when, perhaps especially when, we don't understand life.

Now, the second way that I read that part of the verse is this way:

We are to be thankful in all things because those very things themselves are the will of God.

Nothing happens outside of God's control.  Nothing surprises Him nor catches Him off guard.  Nothing arrives without His sanction on it.

It is ALL, even the bad stuff, His perfect will for us.

This is a tough concept to accept.  How can a loving God willfully allow terrible things to happen?

It is the one obstacle to faith that seems to cause the most trouble – both for those who don't believe and for those of us who do.

Painful circumstances = A good God?

That math doesn't add up.

But here’s the promise that makes us able to not only accept this, but to embrace it:

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28, NLT)

Did you catch it?  There's another ALL in there.

ALL things are working for a good purpose, a purpose pre-ordained by the goodness of God.

Therefore, we can be thankful.

Maybe not thankful for the circumstances, but thankful in them.

For, no matter what happens in our lives, no matter how dire the circumstances, or how deep the suffering, these things are not happening because of some indefinite and quixotic force of fate.  We are not victims of an arbitrary destiny.

We are, instead and in truth, creatures destined for glory.

So, on this Thanksgiving as I reflect on this year of JOY, I am thinking about how I have learned what it means to be thankful and joyful in ALL circumstances.

It means that I change my perspective.

I take my focus off of feelings, and I fix my eyes on faith.

Let's combine those verses, and let's celebrate the Truth of what God is truly saying to us:

Be thankful in all circumstances, because you know that in all things I am working for your good.  It is My will for you who belong to Christ Jesus to be thankful people.  For you have been called according to My purpose.  Therefore, believe that every circumstance that comes into your life is part of My plan for you because I love you.  Trust Me.

OK, Lord, it's a deal.

So, I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  May you remember to count your blessings.  And may you remember that even the difficult circumstances in your life are a blessing, for they are allowed by Him.

For a reason.

For your good.

For a time.

Because He loves you.

Trust Him, not your feelings.  Focus on hope, not on defeat.  Love Him with all your heart, even when you're feeling disheartened.

For He is faithful.

Praise His name, we are forgiven.  We have been freed from the futility and fatality of this life.

Circumstances do not define us, they just refine us.

And we are destined for glory.

I'm thankful for that – aren't you?!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends!

He will dwell on the heights,
His refuge will be the impregnable rock;
His bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.

"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you...if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." (1 Peter 4:12-14, 16, NIV)

"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:6-9, NIV)

"Always be joyful.  Never stop praying.  Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NLT)

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." (Romans 12:2, NLT)

"Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!" 
(Philippians 4:4, NLT)

"[For] we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." 
(Romans 8:28, NASB)

" soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, 'My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD.'  Remember my affliction and my wanderings...My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.  But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every  morning; great is your faithfulness.  'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'"
(Lamentations 3:17-24, ESV)

"What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?" (Romans 8:31-32, 35, ESV)

"Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us." (Romans 8:37, AMP)

"For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, AMP)

"This is the day the LORD has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it...You are my God, and I will praise you!  You are my God, and I will exalt you!  Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!  His faithful love endures forever." 
(Psalm 118:24, 28-29, NLT)

How do you find a way to be thankful even in the midst of difficult circumstances?

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BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. Hi Sharon! Happy, happy Thanksgiving to you and the Mr. and your family!
    I struggle with the 'at all times' part too. What kind of thanks is one that includes suffering? It seems so backwards. But I read something today that helped me. "We loved him a little for his gifts; when we no longer see them, we begin to love him for himself only." Okay. I get that!

    This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
    Have a blessed week my friend,

  2. i think what helps me is it says "in all things" not "for all things." Sort of like the difference between happiness and joy.

  3. Hi Sharon, you know...unless we are flawless and super human beings, I don't know how anyone can actually be thankful for the trials of life...AS THEY ARE OCCURRING. Now, I think that after the fact and when we look back on the trials and circumstances, etc., we can most definitely be thankful for them and praise God how He brought us through them and even the good that has come out of them. Maybe that is where Bill (above) is coming from too. I know for myself, if it hadn't been for the suffering that I have experienced due to my prodical son, my relationship with the Lord wouldn't be as strong...even though I have a LONG way to go. Thank you for sharing this wonderful truth, friend...and many Thanksgiving Blessings to you and your family!

  4. Thank you Sharon for reminding us about "thankfulness" IN all things not FOR all things! You clarified this perfectly "Maybe not thankful for the circumstances, but thankful in them." and, by the way, you are a thankful person, even if you honestly say it does not come easily, because I have proof of your thankfulness (at least 24 days and counting so far) where you have written a prayer from your heart to God giving thanks ... I do agree with you on this verse, and have had difficulty giving thanks in those difficult times and trials, yet I have seen God use this for His greater purpose and usually mine too (whether I am able to see it at the time or not)... I was anxiously awaiting to see one of Sharon's acrostics on THANKSGIVING (you probably have done it other years). I won't even attempt it with this many letters. I love how you drew in the connection with the 2nd verse of ALL from Romans. Being a Christian, carries that burden to show how Jesus makes a difference to us in all circumstances, yet it also gives us the hope (as you penned so beautifully) and His aMazing Grace, strength, victory, spirit of overcoming, etc. to be able to hold our heads up and face whatever comes our way, and yet I am weak far too often when it involves my emotions. However, glory to God in the end, it all works out, I believe in my heart rather than allow those feelings in my heart to override His truth and I know that He paid an awesome price so that I would ... and as to your profound question (at least for me to answer) ... I have learned through the years to look for and find the silver lining in those times and give God thanks (it could have always been worse and there still may be times when it will be) so I prepare my heart and my mind by hanging on to MY ONE WORD given by Him to me: Hope. I think I need a greater portion of God's strength when I am weak and in a trial is definitely one of those times. I count on God's grace and His promises!

    May you, and your dear loved ones have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I will be thanking God for you (and the other blessings that He gives along with those circumstances --- like not having a thanksgiving with all the trimmings :) but I do my best to make due and be happy and thankful in ALL things. Many blessings, much love and prayers for you and your family,

    1. To quote someone dear to us: "Dear Heavenly Father, I am not a fan of trials! I want life to be comfortable. I want to feel calm. I want an easy path to walk. But, I trust Your omniscience, Lord. I know that You know what is best. And so, when trials come, I know that they have passed through Your wise and loving hands. Nothing is going to happen outside of Your will for me. Help me to remember that Truth. Thank You that You have promised that everything will work together for good. Thank You that You never make me walk through trials alone. Thank You that You are always there, and ever near." in Jesus' name and strength ... I give thanks IN all circumstances.

  5. Hi Sharon, "Happy Thanksgiving. This ties in somewhat with the message that has consistently come my way recently, that I promised to "take up my cross" and follow Jesus. - God Bless

  6. I smiled when I read your opening verse 1 Thess 5:16 because I wrote about that too. Yes, we should look different than the world; we have hope and a Savior who loves us. Happy Thanksgiving, Sharon!

  7. Hi Sharon,
    Not sure if my comment was posted. I saw you today at Titus Tuesday. All you have said is true - hard but true. Would love you to link at Sunday stillness -

  8. Happy Thanksgiving, Sharon! I hope you and your family have a very nice one!

    It is hard to be thankful in all circumstances, but I like how you summed it up. Its not necessarily the circumstances, but thankful God is with us through each and everyone of them. I just know I need to be more thankful in all aspects of my life; might be my word for 2015 :)


  9. I like to say it this way, 'Be thankful to God even while going through troublesome circumstances - - not thankful FOR the trial, but that we are thankful God is with us while we are in it. So blessed to have your posts and you always present something we can learn from. Yes, we can rejoice IN HIM, and realize this too shall pass. Thank you for sharing your heart at "Tell me a Story."

  10. Well, I think we are definitely not alone in our struggle to be thankful in trials and sufferings. I also wrote on the subject in my blog this week. This time of year, especially, brings out this struggle, as we celebrate a specific day to give thanks. I am discovering this year that when I see how these struggles have drawn me into a closer relationship with God, and He is refining me, teaching me, strengthening me, purifying me, and forming me into His image, I know I must give thanks for all these things. Without suffering, we cannot grow.
    Blessings, Ann @ Christ in the Clouds

  11. I have appreciated the subtle but important distinction in reading these words since I first heard it several years ago: that we are not called to be thankful FOR all our circumstances, but IN all. That's huge. That allows me the space to not have to agree that the circumstances are good, but that something good and beautiful can come from them. Thank you for sharing what you're learning with us, Sharon.

  12. Great verses! I recently wrote a post about being thankful for trials ( It is so hard to find good during the trial, but like you said, we need to remember that God is still with us!

  13. Very thought provoking post, Sharon. My thought~ being thankful in our trials is different than being thankful for our trials. I could not be thankful for my son's death, but I could be thankful for many things during that time. God's strength, His love, knowing our son was in Heaven, the love of family and friends, etc. Giving thanks really does put our mind on the right focus doesn't it. I cannot agree with all you have declared here regarding trials, suffering, etc.and how it is all ordained by God. Appreciate your deep thoughts and convictions though.
    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Sharon.....and from your comment on my blog? It is never too late to become a baker!

  14. Really well written post on a difficult verse! Great job, Sharon!

  15. It's incredibly difficult but ultimately we've just got to lean on Romans 8:28. He has a good purpose for everything, so thank him for the good even if we can't initially see it.

  16. Thanks for the warm Thanksgiving blessings and reminder of the Big picture. Our Father either causes or allows all things. It's amazing how we stress on things and give them more reverence than we do the One that holds all of it in His hand…

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, sister!

  17. I don't know if you saw the viral video of the young man (Chris Picco) singing "Blackbird" to his preemie son (his wife died unexpectedly and they took his son by c-section at 24 weeks). The amazing witness happened at the memorial service for the wife and the son--when the father sang "This Is My Father's World". Although his voice breaks and he struggles to keep singing, he sings with power that no matter what, God is God and the world belongs to him. Now THAT'S the epitome of a man who gives thanks no matter what--he knows without a doubt that God's plan is not his plan, but he praises God anyway.

  18. Thinking about thanking, along with you this week. I am so heavy with world and national events. It is one reason why we don't have cable television. I really get my news from people sharing updates on FB, then bravely, seek out more reputable media outlets for the rest of the story. I am feeling like, as a nation, we are getting spanked by the Almighty. We've so forgotten to WHOM we ought to be thankful for the very breath we take each day--let alone for the nation we live in! Our hallmark freedoms are slowly being usurped. I can do nothing to reverse it--except to thank God IN this time. Thank God that He IS God! And, in that alone is my hope for my nation. With a thankful heart, I repeat our HisStory this week of our 1621 Thanksgiving and the reason President Lincoln instituted it as a national holiday in 1863. Giving thanks in dire times. May my heart be found in such a place every day, for every day brings its own trials. Thanks for your words of remembrance of this truth. Be ye blessed, dear lady, this Thanksgiving weekend. Blessings! Many THANKS for linking in your consistently inspiring posts each month at All Things Bright & Beautiful!

  19. Hi Sharon! I wanted to stop by and wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow. I am so thankful for your blog-friendship, and I will remember you in my prayers.
    May God surround you with his grace and joy,

  20. Sharon,

    It is interesting how we go to God in prayer, yet forget to thank Him at the conclusion. I, myself, am so guilty forgetting to thank God when everything is going smoothly and especially for all the things we take for granted every single day.

    Great post and hoping you and your family have a truly wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving.

    Love and Hugs ~ Kat

  21. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, Sharon! I'm thankful for YOU!

  22. ALL THINGS ... what a good reminder! Thanks for sharing at Three Word Wednesday today. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

  23. I am so grateful I have somewhere to go with my worries and concerns. Our son just lost his job yesterday and today he was telling us how much peace he has had since yesterday. Only a God who loves him can calm the anxious heart and give peace in the trial. Good post my blog friend, Happy Thanksgiving.

  24. Not really, I am not. But I try and try. God is so good to me, I don't deserve Him but I'm grateful that He calls me "daughter" and He is my everything!!

  25. This season has tested my ability to be thankful, but it is amazing how much more thankful I can be for the smallest and most crucial details.

  26. "Circumstances do not define us, they just refine us." That sums it up so well. I have been so encouraged by you, Sharon, in this year of focusing on JOY. I am glad God took us on this journey together. Wishing you the most wonderful Thanksgiving. I am VERY thankful for you and your friendship.
    Much love.

  27. Yes, friend. We have the same Jesus brain. Love your combination of verses post-- Such a great summation of a hard-to-write-about-and-grasp-topic.

    Praying for lots of joy, love, peace and patience this holiday. Your name is on a sticky note on my prayer wall closet so I am always praying for you :-) Love you, Sharon.

  28. I sure try to be thankful for all things, but Sharon honestly I am not. I will keep trying!!!!!!! Happy Thanksgiving.

  29. Hi Sharon, thanks for this wonderful reminder to be thankful. When we're in the middle of the trial, being thankful can just be a determined act of the will rather than a joyful outpouring. But you're right, God is worthy of being trusted because He is absolutely trustworthy and faithful, and knows what He's doing! Thanks!

  30. Wonderful reminder. Discovering anew that I can be thankful in all things for I have Him in all things. His grace is always present. Grateful for His grace today! We were neighbors this morning at Fellowship Fridays :) Blessings!

  31. Yes! While I'm not always thankful for my circumstances, I AM thankful for our God who carries me through them.

  32. Another amazing post! - Thanks again for sharing. I'm visiting from Saturday Soiree.

  33. I love how you took these verses from 1 Thessalonians and Romans and dissected the meaning as well as describing how difficult it can be to accept God's will for us. The words to thank God in all circumstances at first glance don't seem too hard until you are handed a challenge that is bigger than you to overcome. Thank you for the thought provoking post and for linking to The Weekend Brew.

  34. Hi Sharon, I'm so glad to find your blog (through Lisa, My Hearts Home) will be very encouraging for me in my (sometimes wobbly, because I often fail)) walk with Jesus.
    I think of Jesus when there are difficult times...God did not spare Him (Himself)
    from suffering. That, I find very humbling and then I feel more willing to try to rise above things. But it is not easy.
    Thanks for this worthwhile post!

  35. Oh I struggle with being thankful, all the time! It was so hard losing my job and I don't think I've come to bring myself to thank God for it, but I am learning to thank God IN it! There is hope! Have a blessed week and thanks for linking up with The Weekend Brew!

  36. I am grateful every day. I've been given sooo much, mostly freedom and life. Great post Sharon from your heart. Hugs and wishes for a beautiful Sunday.

  37. We just thanked God yesterday that our house hasn't sold yet. It feels strange, but we know God has a plan!

  38. Thanks for this great post, it is true it is hard to be thankful for the hard things but I try and remember that there is always someone who is going through tougher stuff and I need to be thankful even through the hard times. Thanks for linking up at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  39. That is definitely a hard verse to accept but I do know that I try to be thankful in all circumstances but like you there are times when I just don't want to be! Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving.


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

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