I don’t know about you, and maybe it’s just me, but it seems easy to be thankful when everything is going well in life. But what about the difficult times, the trials that catch us by surprise?
In my quiet time, I came across the following passage. “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
I remember a time when God convicted me when he posed the following question: “Do you trust me in ALL things?” In all honesty (I mean, He knew my heart anyway, right?), I had to admit that I trusted God in most, but not ALL things. As I reflected on that passage from 1 Thessalonians, God asked me a similar question, “Will you thank me in ALL circumstances? The bad as well as the good? The painful as well as the exhilarating? The dark days as well as the light?”
I swallowed hard. That was a tall order. And yet, as I reread that passage for what seemed like the twelfth time, I realized “Be thankful in all circumstances” was a command that followed the command “Never stop praying.” Perhaps that is the key: When we will be in a continually prayerful posture, God will open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts to recognize and then be willing to thank Him for all those things we had previously dismissed or not considered.
I want to continually be in a prayerful state…conversing and listening to God throughout my day. And I want to have a constantly grateful heart. I’m consistently challenging myself to notice the little or unusual blessings in life and to offer up thanks for them.
Here is a list of 25 unusual things to be thankful for to get you started:
1. Be thankful for good health.
Even through my health challenges, I want to thank God for the pain because it lets me know I’m alive.
2. Be thankful for your parents.
Even if you don’t or didn’t have a good relationship with them, they gave you life. Without them, you wouldn’t be here today.
3. Be thankful for good friends.
Over 75% of people say they don’t have a single close friend. If you have even one, you are blessed. It isn’t the number of friends you have that counts, it’s the steadfastness of even a supportive few that makes a huge difference in our lives.
4. Be thankful for weekends.
Wasn’t it kind of God to give us a day of Sabbath? He isn’t the one driving us to work 7 days a week, all hours of the night and day.
5. Be thankful for dirty dishes in the sink.
There have been times when finances were scarce, and times when our next meal was uncertain. While I don’t know anyone who likes dirty dishes in their sink, we can use them as a reminder to be thankful that we have food to eat.
6. Be thankful for crumbs on the floor.
After my oldest left home to go to college, dinner times seemed more quiet. In less than a year my husband and I will be empty-nesters and I’ll miss the banter over our evening meal. To me, crumbs on the floor is a reminder to be thankful for time spent together as a family around the dinner table.
7. Be thankful for a hamper-full of dirty clothes.
Many don’t have anything to wear but the one outfit that is almost threadbare on their back. A hamper filled with dirty clothes is a great reminder that we have clothes to wear to protect us from the elements.
8. Be thankful for bathrooms to clean.
Sometimes it’s easy to fall into grumbling and complaining about a bathroom needing to be cleaned. But the flip side of that is that we can be thankful for indoor plumbing.
9. Be thankful for sibling squabbles.
My children will tell you that one of the phrases they hear from me most often is “As far as it depends on you, keep the peace!” (Romans 12:18). But I have found that I can choose to be thankful for their sibling squabbles and banter because it means my whole family is back together under one roof.
10. Be thankful for snoring.
I’ll be the first to admit that at times this is a tall order. But given that on more than one occasion doctors have given my husband just a short time to live, when I’m kept awake by his snoring, it’s a reminder to be thankful that he is still alive.
11. Be thankful for your parent taxi endeavors.
Running children to and fro can be emotionally and physically taxing. But when we’re tired from being our kids’ chauffeurs, we can be thankful that children are an active part of our life and we are blessed to be a part of theirs.
12. Be thankful for your pets.
Studies have shown that petting our animals is good for our physical and emotional well-being. Being thankful for our animals reminds us of the companionship they offer.
13. Be thankful for your religious freedom.
Many in this world are not free to worship who and how they please without fear for their lives. Don’t take that for granted.
14. Be thankful for technology.
We’ve been living through a strange time this year, where social distancing has been required and social gathering almost a thing of the past. But we can be thankful for the technology that allows us to see each other and maintain our social connection, albeit even if only virtually.
15. Be thankful for your mistakes.
Much of our learning comes from doing things the wrong way over and over again, until we learn the best way to approach situations. Those kinds of lessons are hard fought, but not easily forgotten.
16. Be thankful for laughter.
Scripture says “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (Proverbs 17:22). We can be thankful for the bits of laughter sprinkled throughout our days and weeks to cheer our hearts and bring healing to our soul.
17. Be thankful for sunshine.
I don’t know about you, but for me, too many dark gloomy days in a row and I begin to feel the effects. But the dark, gloomy days somehow make the sunny days seem even brighter and lift my mood.
18. Be thankful for color.
Some don’t have the ability to see color. Can you imagine how boring and lifeless things would seem without the fresh pop of color in the spring, or the crisp fall hues each autumn?
19. Be thankful for books.
Whether you’re reading fiction or nonfiction, science fiction or memoir, books enrich our lives and use our imagination to take us places not otherwise possible.
20. Be thankful for time.
Scripture tells us that only God knows the number of our days (Psalms 139:16). We must be grateful for the time we have because we never know when our time will run out.
21. Be thankful for memories.
My mother used to say that God gave us memories so we could have roses in winter. I think she was onto something. I’ve had patients who literally could not remember family or friends. Each time the patient saw them it was a brand new introduction. God didn’t have to create our human memory system, but He did to help us and to enrich our lives. Be thankful for your memory while you still have it.
22. Be thankful for tears.
Scripture tells us that God collects each of our tears in His bottle (Psalm 56:8). I don’t know what He does with them, but I know it is good. Sometimes we have no words to communicate how we feel, but our tears can so poignantly express our feelings without ever having to say a word.
23. Be thankful for eyesight.
I’ve had several friends with limited or no sight, and it makes life a challenge. As long as we have our eyesight we can appreciate the beauty of the world around us even when our own personal situations can be challenging.
24. Be thankful for your mind.
Our mind is an extremely complex organ, but it allows us to think, reason, problem solve, learn, and form memories. Because of that, life is so much easier for each of us.
25. Be thankful for electricity.
One never becomes quite so grateful for electricity as they are when they’ve lost power! Having lived the last two decades in hot Texas, I became extremely dependent on and grateful for electricity that powered my air conditioning. It also affords us heat in the winter, lights when it is dark, kitchen appliances to cook our food, and even music to soothe our soul.
When God tells us to be thankful in all situations, He means it. But I believe that as we pray without ceasing, He is the one who creates a thankful heart in us.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Father, thank you for giving us our minds and our free will. Help us to set our minds firmly on you. Help us to rely on you for all wisdom and discernment. Show us as only you can the myriad of blessings we have come to take for granted. Thank you for those things like the air we breathe that allow us to live, and for the things that give us pleasure, like color and memories, in this life. You have withheld no good thing from us, your children, and we thank you for your generous hand. Help us to see your hand at work. Most of all, help us to be ever mindful of the gift of your son and His life that he gave freely for us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
I am thankful for YOU, dear reader, and I’d love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below.