When It’s Hard to be Thankful

During November the COMPASS Blog is sharing reflections about Thanksgiving and digging more deeply into why we give thanks. Today we welcome back regular contributor and Ecumenical Stewardship Center Executive Director and CEO, Marcia Shetler, who reflects about when it’s hard to be thankful. 

thanksgiving3Canada and the US both have national Thanksgiving holidays: the US Thanksgiving Day is November 26. However, on that day not everyone will celebrate or be thankful. Situations that we, our family and friends, and others in the world have experienced or are experiencing range from disturbing to heartbreaking. When it’s hard to be thankful, what can we do?

We can find many accounts in the Bible of persons who had an attitude of gratitude in the midst of difficult circumstances: Paul; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; and David, to name a few. Psalm 33 is a psalm of gratitude, giving praise for many things that God has done. It ends this way:

20 We put our hope in the LORD. He is our help and our shield. 21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. 22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone. (NLT)

The Psalmist suggests that trust in God accompanies thankfulness. While we may doubt God’s care for us when we face difficult circumstances, Adam Hamilton, senior pastor at the Church of the Resurrection in Overland Park, Kansas, writes that “Rejecting God doesn’t change the situation … it only removes the greatest source of hope, help, comfort, and strength we have.”

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield offers eight ways to stay thankful in hard times, including:

  • Find things to be grateful for;
  • Share stories about things you are grateful for;
  • Help others with their needs;
  • Give, even if it seems like your gift is insignificant.

A measure of our faith, and certainly our generosity, is our trust in God. An attitude of scarcity—that we don’t have enough—comes from a lack of trust. Persons who view life with an attitude of abundance can be generous with their time, talents, and resources because they trust God to provide.

Perhaps this song from the Taize Community can be our Thanksgiving hymn:

In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

In the Lord I will rejoice

Look to God, do not be afraid

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.

Lift up your voices, the Lord is near.

This blog is a component of the Ecumenical Stewardship Center’s COMPASS initiative to engage young adults in conversations about faith and finances. Like what you see and want to know/do more? Visit the COMPASS web page and join the COMPASS community on Facebook.

Image Credit: Thanksgiving

1 thought on “When It’s Hard to be Thankful

  1. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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