Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Should we be thankful just because God wants us to?

Maybe we should let Him transform the way we view His wishes and learn to view them as an invitation to experience His mysterious blessings in hard times and places — view them as opportunities to find gifts we could easily have missed.

Choosing gratitude and thankfulness when life isn't easy is powerful:

  • Instead of glaring at the hard things, we hunt out beauty.
  • Instead of resenting our husband's long hours, we can tell our children how blessed they are to have a daddy who works hard but loves most when his shifts are over, and he comes back home, tired but delighted to see us.
  • Instead of sulking about unfinished houses or projects, we can grow flowers and cultivate a culture in our home that is welcoming and joyful- even mid-process.

Our kitchen remodel taught me that years ago. Our kitchen was SO bad when we bought this house that the listing agent didn't even post photos of it. It truly was the black hole of the house — with toenailed, mismatched cabinets, countertops cobbled together, and heavy drawers that smashed fingers far too often.

Our roof and siding were much more pressing needs. So I told Daniel, "I won't complain about the kitchen," knowing full well it would be years till it reached the top priority on his "to-do" list.

God held a finger to my lips and whispered, "Really? No complaints!"

I gulped and nodded.

In those following years, as I smashed fingers and glared at annoying kitchen features, God held my tongue. And then one day, the old kitchen gave way to a new, lovely one. A well-waited, long-anticipated space for me to use to host and serve.

I had just begun discovering the power of thankfulness in hard seasons.
But the real project wasn't over. I had just begun discovering the power of thankfulness in hard seasons. Daniel began school, and once again God invited me into a powerful journey of acknowledging the hard but focusing on the beautiful moments.

"I won't complain," I said again. This time I knew what I was signing up for.

It was much like that moment on the Honduran mountainside as we buried Issac (my brother who tragically drowned) when God whispered, "But will you worship?" And there I began hunting out places of worship through tears of joy in pain.

It's that peace that makes no human sense.

Choosing to be thankful isn't denying the hard moments. It's acknowledging God IN those hard places.

Finding things to be grateful for in the saltiest seasons carves DEEP examples for our children to follow. It shows them HOW to live well. How to develop GENUINE character. It shifts the focus from our hard to His STRENGTH.

Once again, following God's ways isn't suppression but a lovely invitation to live life with deeper delight than we ever imagined — not just finding God in the good but in the hard as well.

What are you grateful for today? I'd love to see your comments below with one thing you are grateful for today.