Having a thankful heart to others and God has nothing to do with circumstances. Giving thanks verbally and inwardly to God is what God commands us to do. 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1Thessalonians 5:18).

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). 

Ingratitude is an attitude that is all too common in today’s society. Our culture screams entitlement, which is the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. Heartfelt appreciation for kindness is absent. Some would call such behavior “rude.” God calls it “sin” because ingratitude comes from a thankless heart that does not deserve grace.

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:20,21).

Well-known author Melody Beattie, who had a horrific childhood, writes:” Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, and confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1:17).

In 2017 Billy Graham wrote: “The next footsteps in the corridor, he knew, might be those of the guards taking him away to his execution. His only bed was the hard, cold stone floor of the dank, cramped prison cell. Not an hour passed when he was free from the constant irritation of the chains and the pain of the iron manacles cutting into his wrists and legs.

Separated from friends, unjustly accused, brutally treated—if ever a person had a right to complain, it was this man, languishing almost forgotten in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, his lips rang with words of praise and Thanksgiving!

The man was the Apostle Paul—a man who had learned the meaning of real Thanksgiving, even in great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

Think of it: Always giving thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances! Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life and made him a joyful person in every situation.

We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our hearts and chill our relationship with God and others. Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.”

Yes, we live in extremely difficult times. Suffering is something that we are personally experiencing or witnessing in the news and social media. In the worst of situations, God is and always has been, and always will be, with us. Who else, but God, do we need in such times? Again, our circumstances should change nothing because God is always good and in control of all things. We have no reason to fear because He is our redeemer, protector, hope, and our Savior! What greater times than these should we be praising and thanking God?

This is why, even if we are without family and friends this Thanksgiving, we can celebrate. God, the great I AM, is with us! 

“Jesus promised His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18, 20).