These are hard times.

I’m reminded of it every time I have to put gas in my car, or the grocery bill was more than I expected, or the promised check in the mail didn’t come.

Yet each week at church I hear of families who are experiencing more difficult times than I am, as we gather food to make Thanksgiving baskets for those who might otherwise go without a meal that day.

Around Thanksgiving it’s ingrained in us to think of our blessings and focus on what we do have, rather than what we lack. We have a car (actually, we have two!), a roof over our heads, a meal on our table each night and the means to eat out more often than we should. But this year I’m emphasizing to my family and friends that not only do we have physical and material blessings, we have some spiritual blessings that will blow our minds, if we’d just focus for a few minutes on what we have now … as well as someday when we reach heaven.

In Ephesians 1, we’re told that we are “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing” if we are in a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. So, even if you are out of a job, out of money or out of a relationship, there are some ways that you are blessed that you may not even realize.

I got to thinking about those “spiritual blessings” today and it changed my perspective on these ‘hard times’ I’m living in:

1.      I have a home. Not only do I have shelter and a place to lay my head at night, but I have an eternal home waiting for me someday. Jesus called it a mansion … apparently a place big enough to blow away any type of dwelling I could afford or acquire here on earth (John 14:20, NKJ). When my teenager used to balk about how small of a place our three-bedroom condo is, I loved reminding her of the place she’ll someday inherit that is literally out of this world because she has been “adopted” by a Father who is immensely rich! (Ephesians 1:5)

2.      I have a family. Not only do I have a husband and daughter, a mother and father still living, and brothers and a sister, but I have a spiritual family as well that will live on with me throughout eternity. The church (both local and corporate) is made up of believers that, at times, are closer to me than family. What a blessing that, even if you don’t feel you have family around, if you are connected with a local church, you have family.

3.      I  have a husband. In a day and age when divorce claims one in two marriages, and adultery, abandonment and abuse run rampant, I have much to be grateful for that my husband is still honoring his commitment to be faithful to me in every way. Maybe you are not in a position to say the same. Yet you can. Scripture tells us in Isaiah 54:5: “For your husband is your Maker, the Lord God of hosts.” When you are trusting in His Son, Jesus, for your eternal life, He has committed Himself to never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5). He husbands you in a way that no earthly man ever could.

4.      I have an inheritance. I don’t believe I have any money coming to me when one or both of my parents pass from this earth. But I am told in Ephesians 1 that I have a spiritual inheritance that is mine today. In addition, Psalm 16:6 says “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” I trust those “boundary lines” God has reserved for me and the inheritance that awaits me in heaven some day. That is a living hope and something that moth or rust can’t destroy, nor can thieves break in and steal (Matthew 6:20).

5.      I have forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7 tells me I have been forgiven in accordance with the riches of God’s grace. That literally means that I am as forgiven as God is rich! Think about that. The One who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) has unlimited resources that include unlimited forgiveness.

6.      I have a clean slate.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed my sins from me (Psalm 103:12). I love that God is capable of doing what no man or woman on this earth can do. He completely forgets, as well as removes, our sins from us (Isaiah 43:25).

7.      I have a new identity. I don’t know about you, but I can start to feel a sense of despair when I think of past hurts, regrets or mistakes. Yet, we are not destined to repeat the sins of our past, nor the cycle of dysfunction we might have seen while growing up. I am not the same person I used to be and neither are you if you are in relationship with Christ Jesus. And if you blew it today, you can be new again tomorrow. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).  Wow! If that isn’t music to your ears I don’t know what is.

Psalm 89:15 says: “How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance.” What is your joyful sound this Thanksgiving? The Scriptures about forgiveness that speak to your soul? The bells of liberty that ring in heaven on your behalf? The sound of the words “It is finished” when it comes to the debt you owed, that Christ has paid on your behalf? Maybe it’s the blessings He is allowing you to experience right now: The sound of your child’s or grandchild’s voice. The hum of noisy chatter in your living room as you share a meal together. The sounds of life that remind you that you have been created to love God and enjoy Him forever.

Find your joyful sound this Thanksgiving … and make a joyful sound to the One who has blessed you beyond what you will ever have on this earth. These aren’t hard times we’re living in, after all. These are blessed times we are living in.

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker for women’s conferences and retreats and has authored numerous books, including When Women Walk Alone (over 100,000 copies sold), Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs, Women on the Edge, and When a Woman Inspires Her Husband. She and her husband, a pastor, have also co-authored the book When Couples Walk Together. For free resources to help strengthen your individual walk with God or your marriage, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Visit Crosswalk's Thanksgiving Facebook page at www.facebook.com/iAmThankful.