Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Author Ann Voskamp’s book. One Thousand Gifts, has had a huge impact on many lives. After reading the book, women (and I suppose some men) went out and bought notebooks. They bought notebooks in which to daily record all the “gifts” in their lives that they could give thanks for, whether large or small. It’s a great exercise, especially if you keep at it until you’ve actually listed a thousand things, because it has a huge effect on your eyesight—the eyesight of the soul, that is.
When you’re really on the hunt for God’s blessings in your life, you begin to see even the smallest ones: rain-sweetened air, a taste of perfectly ripened fruit, a long hug from a loved one or your view of your neighbor’s purple vine. After you develop the “eyesight” to see these gifts, you’ll soon realize that God’s gifts are abundant and continuously given.
God’s gifts are present even in the midst of trying circumstances. First Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) may be familiar to you; “Be thankful in all circumstances,” and that little word in is very important. The hard, the painful times are as much parts of our journey as the joy and the blessings are. Although we might have a hard time thanking God for all of the circumstances of our lives, we can make the choice to keep on thanking Him in all circumstances.
“Thanksgiving in all things accepts the deep mystery of God through everything,” Ann Voskamp writes in her blog. “We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of Who He is. No amount of regret changes the past, no amount of anxiety changes the future, but any amount of gratitude changes the present. In stressful times, seek God. In painful times, praise God. In the terrible times, trust God. And at all times…Thank God.”
We could call some of God’s gifts handfuls of grace. Because, for the believer, one who has a personal relationship with Jesus, there are special gifts that remind us that God sees us and He hears. That’s the meaning of his name, El Roi. He sees us in our difficult circumstances. He hears our cries for help and He sends handfuls of grace. What is a handful of grace?
In the book of Acts, chapter 26 and 27, the Apostle Paul, his fellow prisoners, guards and crew were trying to sail across the Mediterranean to reach Rome. They had been driven and tossed by a hurricane for 14 days. But Paul shared the message God gave through an angel: all would be saved. “Nevertheless, we must run aground,” Paul warned them, and shipwreck they did. The entire ship got stuck on a sandbar and was broken to bits. And what was the handful of grace? Every one of the 276 people aboard that ship made it safely to shore, including those who couldn’t swim.
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,” the 23rd Psalm tells us. But are we looking around to see the goodness and mercy? Recognizing who God is and watching for His gifts changes us. It makes us mindful of His involvement in our lives, and of His great love for us. Gratitude expressed today, changes us today—in whatever messes we find ourselves. We can give thanks in all things, at all times!
Resource Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24
 Ann Voskamp, "Holiday Conversations Around the Table Have You Worried? Try This." Annvoskamp.com. November 23, 2016. http://annvoskamp.com/2016/11/holiday-conversations-around-the-table-have-you-worried-try-this/, accessed November 25, 2016.