Day 12

Give Thanks in Plenty and in Want

from the Give Thanks reading plan

Psalm 23:1-6, 1 Chronicles 29:10-13, Deuteronomy 6:10-15, Haggai 1:2-6, Philippians 4:12

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Psalm 23:1-6, 1 Chronicles 29:10-13, Deuteronomy 6:10-15, Haggai 1:2-6, Philippians 4:12

Saying thank you is something we learn to do almost as soon as we can speak. We’re taught to thank a person for things like passing the salt, blessing us after we sneeze, or holding a door open for us. The absence of a thank-you in those circumstances will most likely draw disapproving looks, and your parents’ skills in raising a decent human being will be severely questioned.

There’s an unwritten rule in our culture that when someone does something kind for us, we owe them something in return. From the time we’re little kids, we’re conditioned to offer thanks when we experience good at the hand of another. And it logically follows that the not-so-good things don’t deserve our thanks. We’re not taught to offer thanks when a stranger stumbles into us on the street, let alone when a friend offends us. And why should we say thanks? We feel slighted, and now they owe us. It seems so simple: Good things deserve our gratitude. Bad things deserve our righteous indignation—or stale indifference at best. Makes sense, right?

When I read Paul’s words to the Philippians, I have one eyebrow raised in defiance. Of course Paul, arguably the greatest missionary of all time, has “learned the secret of being content” (Philippians 4:12). How am I, a regular girl with a regular life, supposed to get in on that secret to contentment? I fill my mind with “evidence” to prove that I should be excused from being content in every situation: unanswered prayers, a dry bank account, and broken relationships top the list of reasons I might be excused.

And then, of course, I’m confronted with my sin once again. The Holy Spirit has a way of knocking me off my feet and onto my knees in the gentlest way. (This can leave me simultaneously exasperated and grateful, if I’m honest.) As I consider what it means to give thanks and be content in all things, I see hidden in my heart an attitude that tells me I deserve every good thing coming my way. Conversely, whenever I consider myself in a season of lack, I can start to believe God owes me for my inconvenience.


When I actually take a minute to examine my life through the lens of the gospel, it becomes awfully clear who owes who in my relationship with God. Here’s a hint: it’s me. It’s always me. Because even in times of struggle or hardship, the fact remains that each breath I breathe is a mercy of the living God. In times of abundance and plenty, I’m still dependent on Him—nothing I have is of my own strength or ability.

Everything in Paul’s life was laid before the Father, everything was offered in service. And so whatever he was forced to endure was nothing compared to the glory of a life poured out in obedience to God. That’s the secret to contentment: it’s all about God, not me. From Him, through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever!


Erin Rose lives and works in vibrant Richmond, Virginia, where she serves as Worship & Teaching Pastor at East End Fellowship.  She is a graduate of the University of Virginia, and is currently enrolled as a graduate student at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  Erin is a member of Urban Doxology, a ministry that is writing the soundtrack of reconciliation for the church. Her greatest joy lies in leading God’s people in authentic worship, and teaching them the truth found in God’s Word. She also enjoys eating delicious food, spending time with loved ones, and indulging in the occasional Netflix binge.

Post Comments (33)

33 thoughts on "Give Thanks in Plenty and in Want"

  1. Janna Jackson says:

    The sooner we can learn to be content in our circumstances no matter the state we are in, it can save us from a lot of heartache and trying to fill a void that only God can fill. My prayer is that I would be just as close to Jessie in my sadness as well as my happiness in plenty and in poverty, in sickness and in health. I’m thankful that God is constant. He does not change. In a world and culture where things change all the time this truth gives me peace and comfort.

  2. Annelise says:

    Probably my biggest struggle. Contentment. Not feeling like it should be different than it is when it’s hard.

  3. Steph C says:

    “[When all the good things come into your life] take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the Lord your God you shall fear” (Deut 6:12-13). Oh God, when I receive good things at your hand, let me not forget that I received them at your hand. And when hard times come, let me still cling to joy and not become bitter or despair!

  4. Linda says:

    I sit in the PET scan waiting rm at MSKCC. My husband has recurrent cancer. I m waiting for my daughter in law to join me, she’s battling breast cancer at 35. I’ve never needed to be more grateful than right now. The only praises that slip off my lips are a result of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for these scriptures.

    1. Kassie Skvorak says:

      Praying for your family Linda.

    2. Churchmouse says:

      Praying for all of you. May you continue in His strength, trusting in His promises.

    3. Lindsay says:

      Praying for you and your family.

  5. Erica Askren says:

    In this season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded to count my blessings and seek contentment in my circumstances. It is well with my soul. When I trust, I see my completeness in Him alone.

  6. Tallie Thompson says:

    With this teaching, we have to be careful not to then believe that contentment comes only when we give ourselves in service. We were not created to serve Him, we were created to be in companionship with Him. Even more than our service, God wants us to be with Him, to rest in Him. The service then comes out of that love. That is when we find true contentment as Paul did.

  7. Leslie says:

    I don’t normally comment but today’s reading correlates so well with what I am learning. I have been struggling with the season of life God has me in – away from friends and family. I also am single and have trying to learn to be content while still being open to relationships. Finally, after a disappointment in one of these relationships I finally uttered my honest thoughts. I more or less said, “but God…I have done everything right. Can this wilderness season be over already? I have served my time waiting obediently, I deserve this!”
    The Spirit gently whispered (yes I can also hold exasperation and gratitude), “Leslie, when was it ever about deserving?”. The Gospel is just that – that even when we didn’t deserve it, Christ died for us. And if the only thing we hold in this world is that salvation, that is enough. That is more than we deserve.
    So we hold on to gratitude that we have already received (and will continue to receive) more than we deserve.

    1. Katie Zwonitzer says:

      Thank you for sharing Leslie. God uses your words to bring me to tears this morning (that’s a good thing). May His presence be a comfort and friend while you navigate this season.

  8. Cynthia Johnston says:

    I have struggled to believe I am a child of God and not an abandoned orphan. I am learning how His grace not only saved me, but is sanctifying me more into His image. I try to work at being made holy when there is no more work to be done b/c Christ finished the work on the cross. Please pray for me to believe I am a beloved daughter and to live in His grace.

    1. Mari V says:

      Prayed for you Cynthia

    2. Natulez Zel says:

      Praying Cynthia!

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