What can you do when being thankful feels like a chore?


We’ve all had times when gratitude and praise bubbles out of our hearts with little effort. Life is good and we feel very, very blessed. But, there are other times when being thankful doesn’t come quite so easy. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says it is God’s will that we give thanks.  But what if you’re having a hard time seeing anything to be grateful for? What do you do then?

The Thanksgiving holiday is behind us. Think back. Did it cause you to count your blessings, or did it put you in a bit of a funk to hear everyone extolling all the good things in their lives when you were scraping to come up with even one thing you could add?


We know we should feel thankful, but sometimes a dark curtain closes over our heart and blinds us to anything good. Our problems, struggles, and losses loom large and block out anything that might seem praiseworthy. The “buts” take over and turn everything that might be positive into yet another sadness or frustration that magnifies our self-pity and turns our face back toward the darkness.

Perhaps you started out strong. Maybe your thoughts went something like this . . .

I’m thankful for a roof over my head.” and then a BUT interrupted . . “BUT, it is falling down around me. The front porch is rotting, the woodwork needs painting, the wallpaper is so ugly and dated and the furnace is starting to act up.”

As you began to ruminate on the imperfections of your home, your initial seed of gratitude was washed away.

Or . . .

I’m thankful for my family” . . . BUT, there were missing people around the holiday table this year. Divorce, death, distance or petty disagreements have thinned our ranks. The way it was, isn’t the way it is now and it is so sad.”

Before you know it you are no longer giving honor to your family, but drowning in sorrow.The “buts” have once again snuck in and stolen your joy.



Speak them out loud. Whisper them throughout the day, even if they sound hollow in your ears. The Bible is God’s living word that He says will not return void.

There are so many wonderful promises in scripture. We may be afraid to believe that they are actually for us, but God assures us that they ARE!

Here are just a few to start you out:

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” — Deuteronomy 31:8

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” —Jeremiah 29:11

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:19

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them, he delivers them from all their troubles.” — Psalm 34:17

Look for yourself, you’ll find so many many more!


It’s important to be honest in acknowledging the place you’re in right now. Your current struggles and pain are real. They shouldn’t be ignored, but it is also important to remember that your current circumstances and feelings don’t determine your future, nor change your past.

If you’re having a hard time seeing the good in today, take a peek into years gone by. Allow yourself to revisit some of the times God and His people bestowed blessings on you.

If possible, share both your struggle AND your memories with a close friend or relative. It helps to flesh out your stories and remind you that God was with you then.

You might start the conversation by saying “This year has been the worst. I’m in a really tough place. I’m having a hard time feeling thankful right now, but I’ve been trying to reflect on some of the times that God was faithful in the past. Do you mind if I share a few of them?”

It’s likely that you will both be encouraged by your stories of how God worked things out and blessed you in unexpected ways over the years. Maybe your friend can add some stories of their own. Reflection gives us a unique perspective. We can see both the challenges AND the resolutions. We can see how God was there, working, all along.

Take comfort in the fact that God promises that He is with you now, as well. In the middle of your current struggles it’s impossible to see how He will make your path straight this time. But, remembering what He has done before will help restore hope for your future days.


Pray that He will let you see a glimpse of the truth beyond the valley you’re in.

He can, and often will, give you a broader perspective even before any actual resolution has become a reality. Sometimes He is just waiting for us to acknowledge our need and ask for a spiritual “periscope” to help us see truth that is otherwise out of our sight line.


Are these techniques magic? Will they make it “all better?” Probably not, but they will help you begin to reconnect with God’s blessings and promises. He is always with us. With Him, there is no shadow of turning (no matter how it feels). He has promised to be there through thick and thin, to comfort us in our struggles, and that, in itself is something to be very grateful for.


“I will give thanks to you Lord with all my heart and I will tell of your wonderful deeds.” Psalm 9:1


TODAY’S CHAT: What has helped you stay grateful during the dark times? Please share in the comments below! Your experiences can be a great help to those who are struggling in this area.

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