Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV

We all have stuff to be thankful for, but what do we do with the stuff that is just so hard to feel thankful about?

As Christians, I think most all of us have a sense that we are supposed to be joyful and thankful all the time, especially during the Thanksgiving season. But we all have corners of our life that bring us sorrow, disappointment, pain and even disillusionment. Those are the facets of life that tug at our spirit of contentment and gratitude. Those issues can leave us feeling like we are lame Christians because we just don’t feel “happy” about them and if we let them, they can pull us into pits of despair.

The secret to a joyful, grateful heart isn’t that we feel “happy” or “good” about everything in our life. There are things that simply aren’t happy, no matter how we look at them. God doesn’t expect us to disconnect our minds from reality and live in some twilight zone of plastic happiness. Bad things are bad things. And they happen to godly people. God grieves over the brokenness in us and in our world. It isn’t wrong to grieve over them just as He does. The key to having a heart of gratitude amidst those difficult circumstances is being filled with an unshakable expectation that God will do something good with them, that He sits sovereign over every detail of life and that His character is good, perfect and loving.

When I look at those pieces of my life that look overwhelmingly difficult or disappointing and can thank God for whatever good He plans to bring out of them, I am offering a sacrifice of praise. When I can entrust what looks like something that is broken beyond repair to my heavenly Father’s goodness and love, I am offering a sacrifice of praise.

Hebrews says that a sacrifice of praise is the fruit of lips that confess the name of Christ. In the midst of my crisis, Christ name and character should be present in my testimony. I remember a woman who upon her cancer diagnosis stated: I wonder what good God is going to do with this?! In her turmoil her trust in God’s goodness and love shined through so beautifully!

How can we practically offer a sacrifice of praise and live out the words: And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased? Here’s some practical ideas for offering a sacrifice of praise to the Lord during this Thanksgiving season:

Are finances tight? Has your family experienced the loss of a job this year? Pray for the Lord to show you something you have to share and ask Him for direction for who might have need for this particular item. A dear friend and sister in a particularly tight financial season has a very generous heart. She was just telling me how learning to live so frugally she has to be careful with how she expresses her heart to be generous. She has been carefully saving up and praying for the Lord to show her how to use His provision to bless others. As I listened to her heart to give, I was so moved because it was truly out of her lack that she desired to share - a beautiful sacrifice of praise.

Are you a single parent who is struggling to care for the needs of your family? Is there perhaps a way that you might bless another single parent? If you are a single mom maybe offer to let a fellow mom at church drop her kids off with you so she can do some Christmas preparations? Or invite her over to your home to share Thanksgiving dinner? Pray about how God might be calling you to “do good and share with others” - the Lord knows how much of a sacrifice it is and He will be pleased!

Has your health been an issue for you? A woman at a previous church suffered greatly with migraines. She shared that on the days when she was trapped in the horrid walls of pain, she would do her best to focus on the others in the church who were hurting physically and emotionally and lift them before the Lord. She said she figured that when God allowed her to have those bad days, it was for a good reason and the best she could do with them was pray through her pain for the pain of others. I was so impressed with her attitude that on the days when I am down with health issues I try my best to do the same.