By Shelly Esser

A number of years ago I was watching a Good Morning America show at Thanksgiving time. The God Squad - a Jewish Rabbi and a Catholic Priest – interviewed numerous homeless people about what they had to be thankful for. I was in tears by the end of the segment as person after person, having no material possessions, no place to even lay their head or no knowledge about where their next meal would come from – could say with a smile that they are so thankful to just simply be alive, thanking God for another day! 

In comparison, I have so much and yet my heart doesn’t always gravitate towards gratitude like theirs did. Life in itself is an incredible gift. Because it’s so easy to get bogged down with the mundane tasks of living, we can often forget that. To further complicate things, we live in a society that teaches us to want more and never be satisfied with what we do have.

I like what G.K. Chesterton said, “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, and swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in ink.” Gratitude is to be a way of life and we are to cherish what we’ve been given in every single context of it. 

The people interviewed on television had full hearts of gratitude, despite very difficult circumstances. With the hardship of their lives they could easily have failed to see past their problems, even blaming God, but instead they actively looked for God’s blessings and chose to give thanks despite their circumstances. They started by giving thanks at the most basic level – for simply being born.

1Thessalonians 5:18 commands us to “…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Notice the focus on “all” – when we’re healthy, and when we’re not, when things are going well and when they’re not, when we’re poor and when we’re rich – it covers every conceivable thing we can ever experience. Why? Because thankfulness is the will of God for us. Wow! How many passages in Scripture actually spell things out that indisputably and clearly? It is the will of God to be thankful – all the time! 

Thanking God in good times is easy, but how do we do it when life goes terribly wrong? It takes an act of the will – a choice. Oftentimes, I’ve found it is the very act of gratitude itself that God uses in the dark hours to ignite my hope and change my perspective. Ultimately, a grateful spirit does wonders for our hearts and outlooks on problems and life in general. Practicing thankfulness helps us move from what isn’t to what is. It moves our attention to what God is doing wherever we find ourselves. 

I have intentionally looked for God’s hand on my shoulder throughout uncertainty and painful circumstances. What I have discovered is that when I am looking for God’s hand on my shoulder, my faith and trust in God have been strengthened and renewed, and my heart fills up with thanksgiving. At these moments, I have become acutely aware of His presence. Despite discouraging circumstances, I have been able to witness His hand in ways I never would have had I not stopped to look for them. As author Craig Barnes said, “Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in your life may be taken away. We are grateful that we are held by God even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers.” No matter what happens to us, we can always be thankful that we “are held by God”! Thankfulness also helps us to grow in our capacity to trust God. By trusting and turning our hearts towards thankfulness we find what we need to live in the present circumstances whatever they may be. 

The more we demand, complain and worry, the less we can value, cherish, savor, enjoy,  accept, and see God’s hand working in our lives. Psalm 34:1 says “I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips.” Maybe it’s time for a gratitude check. Looking for the blessings in our lives is a choice we make daily in all of our circumstances. If the homeless can do it, so can we!

If we truly think about it, there is much in our lives for which we can be thankful.  But there are also situations we cannot understand, and we find it a struggle to utter “Thank You” over them.  Remember that God is a powerful God.  He is in control of all things, and He offers you His comfort and His presence while working in your circumstances - even in the hardships. It is our prayer that as you read through our articles, you too will be encouraged and inspired to adopt a spirit of gratitude at all times and in all things.  

Do you enjoy the moments along the way before you get to the next stop on your list? Remember, the present is a gift. Learn to enjoy living in the now. more


Do you struggle with pride when God uses you? Prayer keeps the glory where it is due. more


One aspect of prayer is thanksgiving. Send God some roses of thanks today! more


Developing a thankful heart is the will of God for all of us who profess to love and serve Jesus. more


Joy dies when we do not practice it. It’s produced by praise, or gratitude, glancing heavenward, feeling its soul begin to smile. more


This thanksgiving season, reflect on these words and make them a Thanksgiving prayer from your heart to God's. more


Praise and thanksgiving towards God in the midst of our suffering will transform our perspective to that of an eternal one and give way to hope. more

Tough Times

There’s power in remembering what God has done in your life - there’s also gratitude. more


We are spending so much time looking down at screens that we each get caught up in our own digital distraction and miss how much there is to be thankful for. more


We can speak genuinely when we say we are grateful for our suffering, but only when Jesus is the most beautiful thing in the world to us. Then, anything that pushes us into His arms is a gift. more


What do you need to be thankful for in your life? Nothing is more pleasing to God than a thankful heart. “…in everything give thanks” (Phil. 4:6). more


The secret to defeating comparison is to simply remember that God wants to use you in the place of His calling - a place that only you can fill. more

Self Esteem

Are you in the habit of giving thanks in all circumstances? When we can’t praise God for what, in His sovereign will, He has allowed, we can praise Him for who He is in the middle of it. more


Envy is an equal opportunity foe. Learn how to battle envy when it strikes and transform envy with gratitude. Gratitude is the key to your victory over envy. more

Emotional Health

The truly grateful have learned to stop holding out their hands expecting compensation for their trials and instead embrace the One who holds and comforts them through their pain. more

Spiritual Health

Often, we want to question God’s goodness when we endure difficulties or disabilities, diseases, death, or destruction. more

Relationship with God

Learn how to be thankful and experience the transforming power of a grateful life. more

Spiritual Health

Ten ways to cultivate a thankful heart and draw us into a deeper appreciation for God. more

Spiritual Health

“I don’t worry and I’m not afraid of anything. I have peace of mind. I’m grateful for whatever God does." - Melvin, an 81 year old broom seller, can teach us a thing or two about being thankful. more

Inspirational Stories

Lack of thankfulness can be a spiritual sickness, producing prayers that border more on compulsion than surrender. Gratitude substitutes fear with faith. more

Spiritual Growth