Give Thanks

3 Practical Ways to Give Thanks

How do we give thanks when we just don’t understand?

Things happen. Plans change. Life takes an unexpected turn.
And we just. don’t. get. it. 

Earlier this month, one of my childhood friends passed away. His name was Wes. Wes and I had known each other since we were little, our parents, friends since before either of us were a twinkle in their eyes. As kids, he and his brother played chase and king of the hill with me and my brother in the country field behind Aunt Nancy’s house while our parents played cards or dominos. He and his older brother were like extra brothers to me. We all grew up and went our separate ways, as it often goes, but they were part of so many of my childhood memories, and held a tender place in my heart.

My heart sank when I heard the news of Wes’ death. Last weekend, we celebrated his life. I hugged his sweet momma and older brother, wondering how in the world someone gets out of bed after having to bury their son or brother.

When you read 1 Thessalonians 5:18, to “give thanks in all circumstances,” that feels hard – if not downright impossible.

How do we give thanks – really – in ALL circumstances?
How do we say “Thank you” to God when those circumstances mean burying a friend, grappling with betrayal, or watching a loved one lose a battle to cancer?

As it turns out, He already knew we’d feel that.
He prompted me to look at 1 Thess 5:18 a little closer.
Give thanks IN all things.

So while I am not thankful FOR all things, we can be thankful IN all things.

HOW do we give thanks IN the hard things?

#1 – Be still and Know

I don’t know about you, but when things go sideways, I’m not the girl who likes to sit still. My friend Heather calls it “spinning.” In effort to avoid the pain we are feeling, we busy ourselves, avoid our emotions, keep people around us at all times, or distract ourselves with any number of things – just to avoid thinking about our circumstances.

In Psalm 46:10 God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” If you find yourself spinning, find a place to sit still for a few minutes and just remember that HE IS GOD. If you can’t find anything to be thankful for about the circumstances you’re in, you can be thankful that he is God, and He is still on the throne. And even if we don’t understand, we can be thankful that He’s in control. 

#2 – Look for Little Glimmers

God wants to show you He’s near, but sometimes it’s hard to see it, especially in difficult times. I’ve heard them called “Glimmers” – little places where we catch a glimmer of God and his nearness. An unexpected rainbow, a phone call from a friend. Maybe it’s feeling cool air on your face or finding something you thought lost forever. Last night I saw darling little kids in costume at our front door, asking for Halloween candy, and I whispered to God a simple thank you for the innocence of children. Sometimes we just have to look for ways to tell him thank you.

#3 – Sing

I swear singing helps, even though I can’t carry a tune in a bucket. And hey, I get it – this one might be the hardest to do when you’re struggling to find anything to be thankful for, but it’s a sure fire way to draw yourself to God in the hard places. Trust me. So turn on music. Something you know and love.

I listen to a lot of praise and worship music, because it says the words I can’t verbalize myself, but whatever floats your boat is just fine. Turn it up. Let the music wash over you, and even if you cry through it, give it back to Him. If you need a playlist, I’ve got a free one you can have (scroll down a smidge to the middle of the page to find it).

I wish I could hug you, even if I don’t know you.
Because this I know – if you’re reading this, your heart is hurting. You wanna be grateful but you don’t know where to start. I get that.

Life is just hard sometimes, and until we get on the other side, it’s going to have its dark seasons.

Until that day, we find ways to give thanks for the life we have, the air we breathe and the salvation He gave us through his Son. Thank you Lord, for the promise of Heaven.

~ k



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