The practice of giving thanks at all times

Written by Sara B. Anderson
Published on November 15, 2022

I grew up with the saying, “practice makes perfect.” As I raised my children, this phrase evolved into “practice makes progress.” I guess the shift evidences an awareness that we may never achieve perfection. What stuck, however, is that to do anything better, we must practice, practice, practice. 

The same goes for thankfulness. 

God usually commands us to do those things that are the hardest for us to do. He doesn’t command us to love ourselves because, well, God assumes we’ve got that covered. The greatest commandment teaches us to love God above all else and love our neighbor (read: frenemy, boss, in-law, etc.) as ourselves. High bar. 

It follows, then, that God specifically commands us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Yep, giving thanks is a difficult task.

Why? Because we tend to tie gratitude to our fickle feelings, setting us up for disappointment. If we instead anchor our gratitude to God’s promises, we can experience hope that transcends our feelings.

Even though it doesn’t feel good at the time, the most fertile soil is usually tilled through suffering. The seeds that grow best are watered with thankfulness. 

This holiday season, here are three reasons to practice thankfulness:

1. Giving thanks pushes back on despair

Are we really commanded to be thankful in troubled times? 

When Corrie Ten Boom and her sister were sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews during World War II, they came face to face with evil. No one would blame these devout Christian women for not giving thanks for the hunger, sickness, abuse, despair, and . . . lice. It turned out, however, that the lice kept the guards away from their Bible study. If it weren’t for the lice, the sisters might have been caught and severely punished, not to mention they might not have been able to share the gospel with so many unbelievers. They might not have known it at the time, but they had every reason to thank God for the lice.

We don’t always immediately see the good without the benefit of hindsight, but thanking God in the moment of trouble may be just what we need to turn our perspective (and circumstances) around. In fact, God promises that he works all things for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). If we believe this promise, as we should, we trust there is a silver lining to our suffering. 

And for that, we can give thanks! 

2. Giving thanks pushes back on entitlement

Are we really commanded to be thankful when we don’t get what we want? 

Entitlement may be one of the greatest nuisances facing society today. It says, “me, me, me.” Maybe that’s why God commands us to consider “them, them, them” (Philippians 2:3). 

What are signs that you may be suffering from entitlement? Ask yourself if your needs are the only priority; if you see others as competition; and if you’ll go to any length to succeed. Are your go-to responses to disappointment self-pity, passive-aggressiveness, and unrealistic demands?

What’s the difference between disappointment and entitlement? Giving thanks! When we give thanks instead of responding in the ways above, we find ourselves in a place of humility. And quite frankly, we’re easier to be around.

For this, we can give thanks.

3. Giving thanks pushes back on fear

Are we really commanded to be thankful when we are scared and anxious? 

If you fear, you are not alone. According to a scientific brief released by the World Health Organization, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and depression across the globe increased by a whopping 25%. It seems everywhere we look, there is something to fear. 

God repeatedly commands us to fear not. Probably because He knows ‘fear not’ is also hard.

When we obey God and give thanks despite our fear, we fall into God’s will. And the safest place to be is the will of God. Why? Because God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (1 Kings 8:57). He is preparing a place for us where there is no more fear, no more tears, and no more pain (John 14:2; Rev. 21:4). 

In other words, we can trust God who is infinitely more reliable than our circumstances or our intrusive thoughts.

We don’t have to thank God for our anxiety, but we can thank him through our anxiety. When we do this, we take our eyes off the problem and onto God. If God is for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? 

And for this, we can give thanks. 

So, this holiday season, try to deny the urge to take the easy route and react to your feelings. Instead, practice giving thanks until the blessings of obedience come through.


Consider a few extra resources:

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Sara B. Anderson

Sara B. Anderson is a wife, mother of five, ministry leader, author, speaker, attorney, and Christian apologist with her Masters of Divinity in Christian Apologetics. Sara uses her education and experience to empower parents to raise the next generation of faith on the firm foundation of God’s truth. She provides the necessary tools and knowledge to help mothers reach their goals by supporting four pillars of a strong biblical family: Bible Literacy, Biblical Marriage, Parental Authority, and Early Child Training. With her uniquely practical and straightforward approach, participants can begin applying their new skills after just one course session.

Sara offers Mom-2-Mom Mentoring covering on all things motherhood, especially early child training as well as Marriage Mentoring using the Prepare/Enrich Objective Assessment and Relationship Tools.

You can reach Sara at sarabanderson.com or admin@sarabroyhillanderson.com. You can follow Sara’s ministry at https://facebook.com/fruitsoffaithministries.

Read more about Sara B.

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