Admittedly, it's not always easy to be thankful when you're in the thick of life's obstacles. There are times when giving thanks is the last thing we feel like doing. But let me suggest to you that it's at those times of intense struggle, nagging worry, crippling fear; that we need to do just that. We need to find a measure of joy amidst the storms of life.

Developing a mindset of thanksgiving takes effort on our part, but it can actually yield peace if we try. And if you're anything like me, I prefer a tranquil spirit when thunderclouds amass or shackles of anxiety threaten to keep me awake at night.

I couldn't help but smile when my wife read this quote to me, "If you want to give the devil a nervous breakdown, get up every day and be as happy as you can possibly be!" The more I thought about it, the more I valued its truth. Do you ever find that when things aren't going your way, it's easy to develop an attitude of complaint towards God? I'll come clean and tell you I sure do, "Why did I lose my job? Why did my car break down and cost a small fortune to repair when money is tight? Why has my wife suffered ill health and can't get back to work? I imagine you have your own cornucopia of stormy weather grievances and questions for God. But have you tried giving thanks through those troubling circumstances?

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I brewed a cup of coffee and sat in the kitchen by my patio door. How grateful I was for that steamy cup of goodness first thing in the morning. Then outside, my little blue friends showed up waiting patiently for their breakfast. So grabbing a handful of peanuts, I opened the door and tossed them onto my deck. As I watched the blue jays scurry for their morning treats, I realized I've not been thanking God for the little things, that my focus is often aimed in the wrong direction. King David had it right, "I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness; I will sing the praises of the name of the Lord Most High." (Psalm 7:17 NIV).

What I began to do was take stock of all the grace in my life. Simply waking up to a new day is a blessing. Or things like coffee beans and blue jays, sunshine and rain; my hands to type, my eyes to see; my wife to hold, my Lord to praise. You get the idea. Take a moment to look around you and you'll be amazed at all the things you take for granted. Then in that moment, begin to thank God for every blessing you can think of. Even something as simple as warm slippers on a cool morning is a gift!

When you offer thanksgiving to God, you help keep the devil at bay. He hates it when you have a heart of praise and gratitude. Let's make this verse part of our day, "This is the day the Lord has made. We {I} will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalms 118:24 NIV)

It doesn't take much effort to find something to thank God for. We simply need to open our eyes and commit to thanking Him daily for countless blessings through life's washboard of circumstances. And the best gift of all is that we're saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.
And that my friend is reason enough to offer thanks where thanks is due!

Paul Smyth