Giving Thanks In The Hard Seasons


A couple of years ago we sat at the Thanksgiving table with another family and one by one shared what we were thankful for.  The responses were just what you would imagine…lovely thoughts about family and health and friends.

And then our twelve year-old shared that she was thankful for her IPhone.

I did the mom-freak out embarrassed snort. I tried to redirect and ask her to share something more meaningful.  She stuck to her guns.  Her phone, period.

Let’s just say I didn’t handle that well and ended up making much more of a deal of it than needed…solely out of fear that we had utterly failed as parents in raising thankful children–well, thankful for things that are not so, well, materialistic.

This event has made me a little gun shy of Thanksgiving table sharing.   Mainly because I want to handle whatever our kids say better by discussing it off line with some loving teaching.  And it has made me think about what most of us think about this time of year…being thankful for big beautiful things like family and friendships and home and God.  These are familiar and easy, and I am deeply grateful.


It is good to be thankful for these things…so good.  But there is another layer of thanks–one that pokes and prods at our hearts.  It turns thanks a bit upside-down on our turkey- and-mashed-potato-adorned table.  It is also good, maybe even a little better than the thanks that come so easily, because it invites our hearts and thoughts to focus in a valiant and brave direction, and can bring us great peace.

It it giving thanks in the hard seasons.   Seasons that cause us pain and discomfort and ask us to wrestle with ourselves and our circumstances.


I am thankful for people who are different than me, because it teaches me to seek understanding and extend grace, and that God has created us all, and intentionally made us with different personalities and desires and thoughts.

I am thankful for sickness, because in it I become utterly grateful for health.

I am thankful for conflict, because it tirelessly invites me to look inward and grow.

I am thankful for times of lack, because there I learn to trust in God’s timing for provision.

I am thankful for the beautiful mess of family, because it allows me (if I choose) to let loose of my agenda and my way, and listen and humble myself knowing that God has grace for all of it and will take care of me if I lean into Him.

I am thankful when things seem out of my control, because it is there that find faith as I lean into God and learn to trust his plan that I cannot see.

I am thankful for uncertainty, because it beckons me to look to the only certain One who is forever unchanging and stable.

I am thankful when life isn’t going the way I hoped or expected, because it brings me into relationship with God as I pray and ask for peace and wisdom.

I am thankful.

For it all.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you.                                                                                1 Thessalonians 5:1



What if the sharing around the Thanksgiving Table looked a little different this year?  What if you invited everyone to share two things–something good and something hard, and why they might be thankful for each?  It think it could be quite enlightening.

I wish you a happy, safe and blessed Thanksgiving!


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