Thanking God for Hard Gifts

Welcome to Real Life. What are you thankful for?

“Anything that causes us to need God is a blessing!”
–Nancy DeMoss Wogelmuth

In America, God has blessed us with prosperity. The more we have, however, the less we seem to appreciate it. Rather than thankfulness, prosperity often breeds a sense of entitlement and discontent. We continually desire more, better, and easier. In our land of plenty, thankfulness does not come naturally. It’s a heart attitude we must intentionally nurture and develop.
“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)
I hope 2023 has been an incredible year for you. I hope your heart sings with gratitude as you pull up a chair to your Thanksgiving table. But if like me, 2023 had its share of challenges, let’s choose to thank God in all circumstances. Because although thankfulness doesn’t come naturally, paradoxically, it often arises after hardship. The bitter opens our eyes to a new appreciation for the sweet.
  • After a week of rain, we bask in the glorious miracle of sunshine.
  • After nights of insomnia, we appreciate a solid night of rest.
  • After a season of unemployment, we happily set the alarm for work.
  • After healing from a painful injury, we whisper prayers of thanks on the days our bodies are pain-free.
  • After raising our own children, we gain a new appreciation for our parents.
  • After caring for the needs of the elderly, we celebrate our youth and independence.
  • After a loved one dies, we embrace life more fully.
As we seek to develop grateful hearts, let’s fix our eyes on Jesus.[1] Ann Voskamp says, “If Jesus chose to give thanks for the cup of suffering since, out of a cosmos of possibilities, thanksgiving was the preferred weapon to face and fight the dark, do you and I have any better way?”[2]
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks,
he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
“This is my blood of the covenant,
which is poured out for many,” he said to them.
(Mark 14:23-24 NIV emphasis mine)
In America, we celebrate Thanksgiving because the Pilgrims knew something about thanking God in all circumstances. After a year of disease and starvation, they celebrated that first harvest alongside their new Native American friends who helped make it possible. Hardship birthed gratitude. They felt a new appreciation for life’s simple gifts—food, shelter, breath. Without that first year of suffering, America would have no Thanksgiving holiday!

Let’s be grateful for the bright, shiny, beautiful gifts we have received. But in counting our blessings, let’s not forget the hard gifts. For our God promises to use everything—bitter and sweet—for our ultimate good![3]

Blessed be Your name
When the sun's shining down on me
When the world's 'all as it should be'
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there's pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your Name” by Matt Redman

IMAGE: Photo by Diliara Garifullina on Unsplash
[1] Hebrews 12:2
[2] Ann Voskamp, Waymaker Study, p. 131
[3] Romans 8:28


  1. Beautifully written piece, Peggi. Thanks for posting it.

    1. And thank you for reading and commenting, my friend!

  2. Great post--and Happy Thanksgiving! Sometimes it also takes the suffering to get our attention--as the often quoted C S Lewis "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world…" May all our sufferings help us cling to Jesus more!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving! And I agree. God definitely uses suffering to get our attention. Thanks for your thoughts, Amy!


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