What does it really mean to be thankful?
The word is tossed around a lot this time of year; people stating long lists of what they’re
thankful for, what has gone well for them, the blessings they’ve received. Food, clothes, living
places—the basic necessities are always mentioned; health, money, perhaps a promotion—these
added benefits are also brought up a lot. Sometimes it can feel like Thanksgiving has become a
time simply to boast about the good things in life.
And it’s honestly quite easy to fall into this trap. It’s easy to be thankful when everything
is going well, when your loved ones are healthy, when food is on the table, when you get the job
you wanted or a coveted acclamation is given. But when times are hard, when struggles rise to
the surface and it feels like nothing is going right—are we still thankful then?
“God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” This famous saying is quoted
frequently, often to the chagrin of those who might be struggling. Is God really good all the time,
some might ask. Is there really always something to be thankful for? Can blessings still be
received in times when it feels like life is falling apart?
Maybe a loved one has fallen ill, or a job has been lost. Maybe the results of that
important exam came back, and it really didn’t out the way it was supposed to. Maybe a parent
leaves, or a friend passes away, or a relationship falls apart. As Christians, this should be the time we rely on God the most, when we lean completely and wholly on Him—but far too often, it’s
the opposite instead. We find any distraction we can, or try to fix the problem completely on our
own. Oftentimes it’s as though we’ll do just about everything in our power, and rock bottom can
be what finally brings us to our knees.
These are the times when thankfulness is most important. When one can be grateful for
the blessings God has given, despite the current circumstances of life, that can be the start of true
reliance and trust in Him. Horatio Spafford, the author of the famous hymn text “It is Well With
My Soul,” went through the loss of his wife and daughters in a tragic shipwreck. But his faith in
God and constant trust in him, despite his devastating conditions, led him to penning the words,
“Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say / It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
As we enter into the midst of the Thanksgiving season, take a moment to reflect. Are you
truly thankful for everything in your life? Can you trust in God in circumstances that aren’t ideal,
that don’t match up with the picture in your head?
Thank God for the incredible gifts He’s given you, and let peace wash over you, as God
teaches you to say “it is well with my soul.”
Rachel MacDonald (17) is on staff with CLM/TPS Chapel and is a senior at The Potter's School.