Growing in Glory

This article by guest columnist Teresa Tierney is available all month from our "Growing in Glory" tab. 

Thankful—For This?
By  Teresa Tierney © 2011
Scripture tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)

It’s easy to thank God during the happy events of our lives but how do we give thanks during those less than happy days? Does God want us to fake it? I believe even in life’s most difficult circumstances, God makes loving provision for us for which we can be thankful.

This has been made clear to me through the life of my son. If you picture a 3-year-old in an adult body, you will have some idea of our challenge. Brad was born 33 years ago with brain damage. He can be as willful as any toddler and then turn around and be a grumpy old man when it comes to dealing with change. He complains if anyone but Daddy makes his toast and he will throw clothing in the trash bin rather than wear something new.

While it is annoying to be put in the role of trash monitor, I am thankful for the revelation in his innocent belief that all his needs will be met. When we give him money to spend, he digs up every single penny of change to give back to us. He has no interest in hanging onto any of it. He believes that whenever he needs money again, it will be provided. His faith is perfect. Mine—not so much.

Some handicaps come with disruptive behaviors that make it difficult to be around other people. I can be thankful our son is well-behaved—at least in public. In fact, Brad is the perfect date. He is delighted with any menu; he has yet to meet a food he doesn’t like, and he is very non-judgmental about the movie-going experience. While he might snore through the quiet scenes or laugh at people rolling down the deck of a sinking Titanic (purely a Laurel and Hardy moment for him!), he has yet to pick the plot apart or complain about an actor’s performance.

There are many things Brad will never experience because of his limitations, but I am thankful for the impact he has on the people around him. When I see my 7-year-old grandson gently guiding his 33-year-old uncle into an apology for losing his temper, I see the tiniest corner of the plan God has for every imperfection in our lives. God doesn’t give us perfect minds, perfect bodies or perfect lives. To do so would deprive us of our need for Him—and our need for each other.

Having a handicapped son is not something I would try to thank God for. But I truly am thankful Brad is the son God gave me.

How to give thanks in every circumstance:
  • Look beyond the situation to find God’s plan for you.
  • Trust God for his unique provision for you.
  • God’s plan or provision may not be obvious. Ask him to reveal them to you.
  • There may be a season of waiting for your answer. Be willing to wait on God’s timing.
Ask God for the faith to trust in His promise: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

Question:  What can you find to be thankful for in your less than perfect circumstance?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tierney is a writer, a mother of two sons and grandmother of three. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska. You may contact her at

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