Articles by Topic
Articles by Type

Give Thanks in Everything

Christian, why do you say to "give thanks in everything?" There are plenty of things that I don't feel thankful about!

Because…God gives us many, many blessings. Even problems come to us filtered through His good purpose, and can include surprising blessings.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

That’s quite a command, isn’t it? Rejoice always? Pray without ceasing? In everything give thanks? That’s hard to do after watching the news! Well, maybe the pray-without-ceasing part, because I never seem to run out of things to complain to God about, or to ask Him to do. I’m not sure that’s what Paul meant when he wrote these words to the church at Thessalonica, though!

The wider context of this passage, 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23, describes a lifestyle that is saturated with God’s Spirit: encouraging one another, seeking good, abstaining from evil, and — in the midst of everything — rejoicing and giving thanks. These people didn’t live in a perfect world, any more than we do. But Paul was encouraging them to focus on God and His kingdom rather than on the flaws of life in the Roman Empire. When we do the same today, we discover reasons to give thanks, whether for everyday blessings, or during difficulties, or when looking toward Eternity.

Give Thanks for Everyday Things

We take so many of God’s blessings for granted. They are so common that we forget to consider them as the gifts that they are. For instance…

  • The sun came up this morning.
    • It didn’t have to, and it wouldn’t have if God weren’t holding the universe together and maintaining cosmic order.
  • I just took a breath.
    • I didn’t have to, and wouldn’t have if God had chosen this second to call me home.
  • I have food and shelter.
    • Many people around the world do not.
  • I’m writing this article.
    • That means that I have the ability to write, and the tools with which to do so.
  • You’re reading this article.
    • That means that you have had the education to learn to read, and access to the World Wide Web of information beyond anything dreamed of just fifty years ago.

Try adding to this list yourself. Look around and count all the normal, everyday good things that are in your life. Make a point of noticing the natural beauty, or the modern conveniences, or the people who contribute to your life. I did a similar exercise a couple of years ago in this article. When you count your blessings, I believe you will be surprised at the length of the list.

Give Thanks During Hard Things

Even when circumstances are difficult, there are still things for which to be thankful. Some of those are, in fact, directly related to the hard times: the things we learn, the strength we gain, the way we grow. While they don’t make hurts any less painful, the less-obvious blessings are there if we watch for them.

  • Maybe traffic is horrible.
    • But you have a car instead of walking.
  • Or maybe not: Maybe the car is broken.
    • But there are mechanics who can fix it.
  • Maybe you have job problems.
    • But you have a job to complain about.
  • Or maybe not: Maybe you were laid off from your job.
    • But that gives opportunity to find a new career to replace it.
  • Maybe you’re sick.
    • But there are medical technologies — X-rays, CT scans, drugs, radiation treatments, surgery — that provide hope and help.
      • Even if the illness is beyond current technology to cure, we still have better conditions — sanitation, therapy, pain relief, adaptive tools like wheelchairs — than much of the world, or any of the world of just a few decades ago.
  • Maybe you have lost a loved one.
    • But you had them for at least a time.
    • When the pain starts to fade, there will be good memories to cherish.
  • Maybe the world seems to be falling apart, full of evil and war.
    • But it can never fall farther than God allows for His ultimate good purpose 1.

While writing this article, I re-read the classic children’s book “Pollyanna“. This is the story of a little girl who always finds a reason to be glad. It started when the missionary barrel that helped provide for her and her minister father did not contain the doll she hoped for. Instead it contained a pair of crutches. 😞 Her father suggested that she could be glad that she didn’t need them! It became a game to always find something to be glad about, in any situation.

Throughout the book, Pollyanna spread joy to everyone she touched by playing her “Glad Game”: If it her room had no pictures on the wall, she could be glad of the view out the window; if it was Monday (hard-work washday), she could be glad that it was a whole week until next Monday; if it was raining, she could be glad that yesterday was sunny and tomorrow might be. Even when an accident left Pollyanna bedridden, she found that she could be glad that it gave opportunity for those she had influenced to tell her how much she had helped them.

Would Pollyanna’s “glad game” help all of us see reasons to be thankful even in difficult circumstances?

Give Thanks for Eternal Things

Above all, we can be grateful for God’s kingdom. Beyond all the good and the bad of this world, God has a plan that is so much bigger than we can imagine.

Whether the blessings are ordinary things, or come in the midst of trials, or have eternal scope, they all give me reason to say…

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. See other articles on this subject: Why Bad Things Happen, Sovereignty of God, God is Great, God is Good and Good vs. Evil, a Lopsided Battle.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.