Can We Be Thankful for the Things We Don’t Want?

This Thanksgiving I’m going to conduct a spiritual experiment of sorts.

It’s typical to give thanks for the good things in life.

I want to go further. I want to be as grateful for the hard things, the seemingly “bad” things–the things I don’t like about my life, even the things I hate and wish would go away.

The things I call in Abundant Gifts “disguised gifts.”

You see, in my years of attempting to live “the Abundant Gifts way,” I have developed a theory of how things work in the spiritual realm.

My theory, in a nutshell, is that when we, in faith, receive even the difficult, unwanted things in life as a gift, that somehow triggers that thing to become a blessing eventually in some way.

I don’t think that all things automatically or necessarily turn out for the good. The Bible says that God works all things together for good “to those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

In other words, to those who live by faith.

It’s difficult to express how this might work. I don’t want to say that our faith “allows” God to turn a curse into a blessing, exactly. Yet I wonder if that is somehow how it works.

There are definitely things in my life I do not welcome. Yet, in faith, I recognize that I probably do not see the big picture. How often, in retrospect, do you experience some thing that was not pleasant at the moment, but later turned out to be a gift in some way?

So now, at this moment, though I do not see the blessing in some of my circumstances, I believe that it’s possible for God to turn it into something good.

So I will thank God for everything, good or not apparently so, this Thanksgiving. I will wait, in hope and faith, for the “bad” to transform into blessing.

I’m very interested in your response. Should we give thanks for all things? Post your comment on the blog by clicking “comments,” please.

5 Replies to “Can We Be Thankful for the Things We Don’t Want?”

  1. I agree with you Diane. I think sometimes the lesson we need to learn is in the difficulty we face –we may not need this lesson for years down the road. But, when the time comes that we need it – there it is, we already learned it. Why did I find myself working in a nursing home? A couple years later my mother needed the kind of care I could only have learned as a CNA. So many times I’ve learned that I knew and remembered where I learned it long after an event.
    Thanks for reminding me to be thankful for the trials – like the oyster they make the pearls.

  2. Diane–you have eloquently captured one of my own beliefs, and I’ll be specific… the biggest “gift” I ever received was getting fired from the job that brought us to Chicago. I hung onto that job for dear life, even though I knew six months into the job that it was a bad fit. When “the ax fell” nearly two years later I was devastated… and relieved. Out of that experience came the realization that God built us to do work that counts, and I wasn’t doing that work. From that realization, my career coaching practice was born. I am forever thankful for that gift, wrapped in the most unexpected package, and I see my life through that filter now when other “unwelcome” gifts come my way. Thank you for your insights! P.S. I enjoyed God’s sense of humor when the company that fired me later hired me for several coaching assignments! He does work in mysterious ways.

  3. Hi Diane

    Most definitely – yes! You may have come across that great story called The Angel of Death where two angels were sent to earth and landed one night at the home of a very wealthy couple and asked for food and a bed. Reluctantly, the rich man gave them some dry bread and sent them outside to lie down on straw in his rickety old shed.
    During the night, the elder of the two angels fixed a large gaping hole in the shed wall and when the younger complained, he replied simply “All is not as it seems”.
    The following night they arrived at the door of an impoverished elderly couple. They were brought in beside the fire and the old woman gladly shared their humble meal with the angels before giving up their own bed so they could get a good night’s sleep.
    In the morning, upon leaving, the angels saw that in the night their only cow had died and the old man and his wife stood crying at their loss.
    “Why would you help the rich couple by repairing their wall while you stood by and allowed that decent old couple to lose their only cow?” the younger angel cried.
    “I saw a treasure chest of gold hidden behind the wall” said the elder “and I didn’t want the greedy couple to find it so I boarded up the wall. But last night, the angel of death came to take the poor man’s wife and I persuaded him to take the cow instead. You see, all is not as it seems”.
    While it’s a natural response for many of us to complain about the weather, the children or our jobs, we often forget how very lucky we are.
    I’ve never had to see my child cry through hunger – that must break a parent’s heart.
    My cats and dog are lying contentedly in front of the fire right now, they understand happiness is a roof over their heads and food to eat.
    I live a fairly isolated life but have the most amazing friends on the end of a phone or email and most importantly, I have a wonderful family who loves me and cares about me.
    When we complain about stuff we don’t know what the alternative might have been, it could have been something much worse. You’ve reminded me yet again about counting our blessings and I hope more of us continue to do this as we really are among the most fortunate people in the world.

    Marion x

  4. Yes I do believe we can be thankful for things we don’t want. I’m not saying that it’s easy to be thankful when life throws up unwelcome things but I know things work out better when you are.

    The bible says, be thankful in all circumstances and tells us that God will work all things together for good. If we believe that we can be thankful in all circumstances knowing that God knows and He’s got it all in hand.

    When things are tough and the enemy has overplayed his hand, it gives God goog reason to bless us.


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