Learning To Give Thanks When It’s Easy And When It’s Not


Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Psalm 106:1

Sometimes it’s easy to say those words. Sometimes it’s easy to be thankful. Life is good. Everyone is healthy. There is enough money in the bank account to pay the bills

But sometimes it isn’t so easy to be grateful.

For us, the year 2015 was one of those times when my husband, John, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Although the doctors kept trying to reassure us with phrases like, “If you have to have cancer, lymphoma is the best kind to get,” we weren’t too sure. Life seemed very fragile and uncertain.

Life with cancer was hard enough to deal with, but it was made even more difficult by the fact that our children do not live close enough to lend support on that tough road. My daughter and her family live in China. My son and his wife live in the next state. It wasn’t like either of them could drop by for dinner and a hug. They couldn’t sit with my husband at his chemotherapy appointment.

Some days it was difficult to live with a grateful attitude.

How could I thank God for cancer? How could I be grateful that my family wasn’t near enough to physically support us?

That’s when I have to remember the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I highlighted that little word in because that is the key to giving thanks when it is not easy.

learning to give thanks

But we can still be thankful in the midst of painful circumstances. While my husband battled lymphoma, I was grateful for God’s Word that continued to comfort me. I thanked God for friends who supported us and for the medical personnel who were doing everything they could to make my husband well again.

When you’re in a season where it isn’t easy to be grateful, thank God for the eternal things that will never change: His love and His Word. Find little things to be thankful for: the smile of a friend, the beauty of the fall leaves.

Thankfully ten months after my husband’s diagnosis and three months after chemotherapy, his cancer went into remission and he is doing much better.

Once more it’s easy to be thankful.


I’m thankful for friends, for a comfortable home, and for work I love.

I’m thankful for the little things like radiant sunrises, warm sweaters, and Carrot Cake Coffee.

Most of all, I’m thankful for God’s goodness. I’m grateful for His steadfast love. Because even if I didn’t have any of the other things I listed above, I know I would always have those. The psalmist reminds me, “His steadfast love endures forever.”

I pray that God will cultivate gratitude in my heart–gratitude that is not dependent on my circumstances. That I will be able to thank Him for His eternal blessings no matter how life on earth is shaping up.

Next step: Make a list of the earthly blessings you are thankful for this year. Then make another list–a list of the spiritual blessings you have that cannot be taken away. I’ll get you started: God’s love, Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, the Holy Spirit’s abiding presence. If you like, write some of your blessings in the comments below!


3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change You: Keeping

3 WaysAbiding in ChristCan Change Your LifeKeeping

I have three grandsons. They are all born to the same parents and they all live in the same household. Yet they each have a distinct personality. One of the ways they differ is in their “cuddle factor.” One grandson prefers to be loved from afar. You need to grab a hug and then let […]

Continue reading...

3 Ways Abiding in Christ Can Change Your Life: Connecting

Copy of abide

Abide. Every year I choose one word to focus on. One word to guide the next twelve months. At the beginning of 2017, I chose “abide.” I hoped that studying and meditating on that word would help me understand it better. I kept asking, “What does that word mean, exactly?” “How do I abide?” “How does […]

Continue reading...

Why the Reformation Matters


500 years ago today Martin Luther nailed 95 Thesis to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. And we might be thinking, “So what?”  Luther himself probably did not realize the importance of this simple act. The church door in a German town was like a public bulletin board. Along with Luther’s document outlining the corruption […]

Continue reading...

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Go to the God of Suffiency

God makes us capable of longing so that we come to Him to fill those longings.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough. When my husband, John, and I were first married, our vehicle was a used Dodge Polara–nicknamed the tuna boat. It was a huge car and not very attractive. But it got us […]

Continue reading...

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Reject the Myth That More Stuff Equals More Happiness

too often we believeamore stuff = more happiness

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough. A while ago a local charity called and asked if I had any clothing or small household goods that I would like to donate. Of course, I did. In fact, I had […]

Continue reading...

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Watch Out for Satan’s Lies

Satan works overtime to spoil our appetites and too often we fall for his lies.

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough. When I was a kid, my dad had a habit of pushing back from the table after a delicious and enormous feast and saying, “I spoiled my appetite.” Of course, he spoiled […]

Continue reading...

4 Keys to Finding Enough: Recognize Your Broken Wanter

Could it be that the amassing of things is stuffing our closets but emptying our souls-

Why is contentment so difficult to attain? Why do we always want more? This post is part of a series on finding enough. When my husband and I were first married, we moved all of our belongings into our first apartment by loading used furniture onto a borrowed snowmobile trailer. (Can you tell I’m from […]

Continue reading...

Five Checkpoints for a Quality Day

5 Checkpoints for a Quality Day

I love resale shops. Some of my favorite clothes are from thrift-shops and resale boutiques. Often I find exactly the right color and fit in one of these stores, even when a hunt in typical retail shops turns up nothing. However, resale shopping requires a keen eye for quality. Many of the clothes are wonderful […]

Continue reading...

Four Step to a Less Frazzled Life

layered look works in fashion but not in life

I love window shopping. Wandering through boutiques and shops, scoping out new styles and fashions is one of my favorite pastimes. I pause at store windows, looking at the mannequins dressed in the latest trends. I check out the fabrics, colors and cut of the clothes. Inevitably, one particular outfit will catch my eye. And […]

Continue reading...