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Finding Thankfulness in the Good and the Bad

Thanksgiving is almost here. The aroma of roasted turkey, green bean casserole, and sweet potato or pumpkin pie, will soon fill homes across America. Many will enjoy a scrumptious meal with family and friends. Some will take a moment to express gratitude to God for His blessings. Others will struggle to be thankful this season, especially people in troubled marriages. Is it possible to be grateful when your heart is hurting? 

Happiness is Not Guaranteed

No one gets married to live unhappily ever after. We should desire the “better” but also be prepared for the “worse.” It has been said, “Nothing is certain but death and taxes.” There is a third thing: there will be disappointments in marriage because it consists of two imperfect people with sin-stained hearts. When things break down in a relationship, it usually means two immovable attitudes—pride and selfishness—have crashed into each other. Pride and selfishness undermine the ability to find good things in a spouse.

Something to Be Thankful For

Many families have a Thanksgiving tradition in which everyone shares one thing for which they are thankful. This tradition can be fun but also a little awkward, especially when you are with people who are experiencing relational difficulties.

The Bible tells us to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV). This verse instructs Christians to thank God in the good and bad times. Perhaps you can start a new tradition this Thanksgiving. Consider three reasons you are thankful for your spouse and family, and tell them! The joy will be contagious.

Nothing Is Wasted

Matthew 14:19-20 describes how Jesus “gave thanks” and broke five loaves of bread and two fish to feed five thousand. Jesus took what could only satisfy one person—a boy’s lunch—and helped thousands, with nothing wasted. But for this to happen, something had to be broken first.

When your spouse or someone close has broken your heart intentionally or unintentionally, remember Jesus is waiting to pick up the pieces and use them for a higher purpose—to bring God glory and make you more like Christ. Everything—including life’s heartbreaks—has value and usefulness in God’s kingdom (Romans 8:28-29). Nothing is wasted. Now that is something for which we all can be thankful!

This article first appeared in Birmingham Christian Family Magazine.


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