Gratitude, Loss, Prayer . . . and the Holy Spirit

From 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

From Philippians 4: 6-7 NIV “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

From Psalm 9:1 NIV “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

From Colossians 3:17 NIV “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

There are hundreds of books and podcasts about the benefits of being grateful. You can read every book and listen to every podcast, but developing the habit of gratefulness is the linchpin.

Writing this post made me reflect on the difference between gratefulness and thankfulness. I see being grateful as a mindset; whereas, I perceive being thankful as gratitude to God for all He has bestowed on us. Everything good is from Him; we are just “borrowing” it while we are on this earth. So when I write about gratefulness, this is inclusive of being thankful to God for His blessings.

I am trying to develop a mindset of gratefulness and thanksgiving. It is an ongoing and intentional choice. I have always been a positive person by nature. I recently read, “There is no such thing as a worrier; instead, we have developed the habit of worrying.” I think the same is true about gratefulness. In other words, to be grateful, we must develop the habit of gratefulness.

It is easy to get caught up in the negatives of life, what is not working, what is not going our way, what is frustrating, etc. However, this too is a choice. It is a choice to find the good in things, which also helps us develop a grateful mindset.

This is what works for me in developing a mindset of gratefulness.

    • Reflect on what you are grateful for each day (preferably first thing in the morning before your feet hit the floor) and try to do this throughout the day as much as possible.
    • It is even better to write down what you are grateful for daily.
    • Get beyond the “big things” such as family, health, job, etc., and start being grateful for the small things such as cozy slippers or a smile from a stranger.
    • When you feel yourself getting frustrated or tainted by the negatives and stressors of this world, pause and think about what is going right; reflect on your blessings.
    • Start to weave this exercise of gratefulness with prayer – – talk with the Lord and thank Him for these small blessings.

The following is just one day’s list of what I am grateful for.

    • Watching birds eat from the feeder
    • How Daisy greets me like I am the most important person in the world
    • Buddy, my cat sleeping on the bed in my office while I work
    • Seasonal candles filling the house with sweet fragrances
    • Neal’s yummy cooking
    • 33 years of marriage
    • Emmy’s heart for others and her new job
    • Keith’s gift of managing money and his love for Emmy
    • Ryan’s artistic talent and love of learning
    • Bekah’s love for people
    • Ocean’s sweetness and gentle spirit
    • Luna’s spunk and animated personality
    • Working from home and only working part-time
    • Having Mom living down the street
    • Snuggling on the couch with my down blanket
    • Hot green tea on a cold, rainy morning
    • Chapstick
    • Finding a treasure on sale – score!
    • Warm and fun seasonal socks
    • Flannel pajamas
    • Fleece (because it is warm and cozy)
    • Comfortable, but cute shoes
    • Sitting by the fireplace on a cool fall night
    • Taking control of my health and fitting into my smaller clothes!
    • Audible and so many good books to read/listen to!
    • Ability to sew and crochet
    • Sunsets over the lake
    • A good night of rest
    • Paint: chalk paint, spray paint, chalkboard paint, all paint that transforms the look of something old into something new and beautiful.
    • Netflix when I need to just chill and get lost in something.
    • My love of learning and the feeling of learning something new.
    • My office space, being able to look down over our living room/kitchen.
    • Family gatherings that are approaching

When I start to think about all I have to do and how I don’t have time to wash dishes, or do laundry, I pause, pray, and reframe my current situation into a positive by saying things like, “I am thankful for good food to eat. I am thankful for a husband who is a good cook.” or “I am thankful to have clothes to wear. I am thankful for having time to exercise as I wash my sweaty exercise clothes, etc.”

I don’t do this all of the time. I fall short. However, the more I establish a habit of gratefulness, the more I cultivate a grateful mindset.

I am not saying to be unrealistic about current circumstances. You might have a sick child with a fever who is cranky and vomiting. However, try to reframe this from a negative to a positive. Take a moment to pause and thank God for this sweet child and what a gift he/she is from God.

You might have lost your job and be struggling financially – – maybe even fearful of losing your home, but you have your health and your family, which is a blessing from God.

And most importantly, you are a child of the most high God who is all-powerful, all-knowing and He is on your side. This in itself is a reason to be grateful.

One final note on this topic . . .

Like most people, I have daily struggles and have experienced painful situations in life. For the last few years, we have missed the presence of my mother-in-law Faye and my Dad at holiday gatherings; it is just not the same without each of them. However, I have never lost a child. I think this might be the hardest thing in life to endure.

I have a close friend whose daughter recently died. I cannot imagine the pain she feels. She shared a quote with me, which came close to capturing the pain she is feeling,

The Death of a Child . . . it’s like losing your breath and never catching it again, It’s a forever panic attack feeling your heart dying as your soul is screaming for them and no matter what you try to do, you continue to lose your mind.”

I cried when I read this because I think it is true and no words can fully take away this pain for my friend.

My friend’s loss reminds me of Horatio Spafford when we wrote the hymn, It is Well With My Soul. After losing his son to scarlet fever and experiencing numerous troubles in his business, Horatio sent his wife and four daughters on a trip. Tragically, their ship was hit by another ship in the Atlanta Ocean. Horatio received a telegram from his wife Anna, which said, “Saved alone.” His four daughters tragically died at sea. As he was traveling across the ocean to meet up with his wife, he wrote this beautiful hymn when he reached the approximate spot where his daughters had drowned.

It is Well With My Soul

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trumpet shall sound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

As we gather with family and friends, take time to thank God for all your blessings . . . big and small. Also, commit to developing the habit of being grateful in all circumstances, which will eventually turn into a mindset of gratitude year-round.

But also join me this season of thanksgiving in praying for all those who have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one. May they feel the presence of the Holy Spirit surrounding them with great compassion and love.

From John 14:16, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.


  1. Britney on 11/27/2019 at 6:00 PM

    Wow! You just hit home with so many of the things you shared! I believe you are what you do- daily! That falls into the category of thanking our Savior for all we have! I love the honest wisdom you share on this blog and how open you are about your life. I am truly honored to know you and call you friend. I am thankful for YOU! Thank you for reminding me that everything has a silver lining- even pain! ❤️

    • Suzanne on 11/28/2019 at 12:10 PM

      Hey Britney,

      Thanks for being such a loyal reader and friend! You always say the nicest things.
      I am still growing in my faith and enjoying the journey of growing closer to Jesus. I am grateful He loves me in spite of all my flaws. He is with us always – – in the good and bad times.

      I am thankful for YOU!


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