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How Can We Be Thankful When We Don’t Feel Thankful?


Written by Lawrence Yoo


Throughout the Bible, there is a clear command to regularly offer thanks and have an attitude of thanksgiving. The problem is that you might not always feel thankful. How can we be thankful when we don’t naturally feel it? How do you give thanks when you think everything is going wrong and you are struggling and hurting?


One thing I want to make clear before I go any farther is that giving thanks doesn’t mean you don’t mourn, weep, or grieve. Giving thanks is not the opposite of those things. The Bible says we can still choose to give thanks in light of those things because we are giving thanks to a good God.


To be honest, I have had some seasons when it was difficult to give thanks, but here are some practices that help me to be grateful:


1. Remembering the Greater Story

No matter how bad our present circumstances, we can remember that we are known, loved, and called to purpose, and that Jesus will have the ultimate victory and all things work for his glory.


2. Considering the cross

Jesus is so passionately in love with us that he would endure the cross to rescue us and make us his own. Grasping this incredible truth helps our hearts to overflow with thankfulness.


3. Looking to the Saints

We can ask our brothers and sisters how God is working in their lives and rejoice with them. We can ask them areas where they see God working in our own lives (sometimes they might be able to see more clearly). Sometimes just sharing our hurts with others makes us grateful we are not carrying our burdens alone.


4. Notice the Little Things

My whole outlook is changed by having an awareness for the little things like the sound of a loved one’s laughter, a spontaneous hug from your child, the taste of the first spoonful of ice cream, the cool side of the pillow, the feeling you get listening to your favorite 90’s jam, or when someone hands you a tissue when you’re crying, or sits with you even when it’s awkward and there are no words. Slowly you begin to realize there are no little things and evidence of God’s goodness is everywhere.


5. Sing

When all is said and done, sometimes you have to choose to praise even when you don’t feel it. Sometimes it’s easier to sing it when you can’t find the words to say it. If you have a good voice, you can be thankful for that gift, and if you have a bad voice, you can be thankful that God receives your praise the same. And you can be thankful for the body of Christ that sings with you.


These are not the only ways to offer thanks, but these have been helpful for me when it’s hard to give thanks. I hope they can also help you to live in a state of thankfulness.


“Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for his good; his love endures forever.”

-Psalm 106:1

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