The Unthankful Thankful List


The truth is, I’m a big fat baby.

I was thinking about Corrie ten Boom again today, and her book. (The dead woman continues to teach me things.)

The one part in particular…She and her sister are in the Nazi concentration camp, and amidst the sewage and bruises and filthy sin, they find another nuisance…fleas. Corrie’s sister dares to thank God for everything, even the fleas.

Later, they realize the blessing: It was the fleas. The fleas kept the guards away. Abusive, molesting Nazis avoided their barracks because of the fleas.

little bugs

First gratitude, then the blessing.

Of course, here in America we’re in the habit of thanking God for things we’re thankful for. Obviously.

Well today, I’m doing an Unthankful Thankful List.

Won’t you join me? It might be embarrassing at first, your petty struggles. (Mine are to me). Don’t let that stop you. List them all – the nuisances, the burdens, the deep-seeded sorrows.

Dare to find the blessing in the curse.

  • Today, I thank God for financial discomfort. Because our giving means more, and our Provisions do, too.
  • I thank God for a mess of a house. Because we have a house, and people live there.
  • I thank God for piles of half-started laundry and caked-on, still-filled dishes. Because we eat, and are clothed.
  • I thank God for two doctor visits in two days with little boys. Because people live in hospitals, and sometimes no one comes home.
  • I thank God for feeling sick. Because I remember that I am safe and heaven is real.
  • I thank God for two rowdy, draining, perplexing boys. Because I don’t really want a quiet house.
  • I thank God for a blog that isn’t big like I wantbecause He knows I need faithful more than fame.
  • I thank God for the fear that I live with, because when I am weak, He is strong.
  • I thank God for not being able to do it all, because it’s then I get help – from my mom, dropping everything to care for the feverish and bleeding (their tired mom, too), from friends who bring bananas when you have none, from sisters who love mine like they’re theirs.
  • I thank God for when life feels overwhelming and sad, because He is good, and He comes to comfort.

See, I make my list – honest and hard – and something happens.

flower and sun

Remember the verse?

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

With thanksgiving, the peace. I always thought the two were disconnected and unrelated, that He threw in the part about giving thanks just for the heck of it.

It dawned on me today. The thanking brings the peace.

So this Season of Thanking, you’re in luck. Yes, you.

If you struggle to thank, you are blessed. He’s at work the most in the darkness. Don’t be afraid to be un-thankful. Think through the hard things; he’s not scared of them.

I don’t know you and your struggles, how private or terrible. But I pray for you today, that you give thanks for those fleas, and you get the special gift of seeing why, and how good.

Happy Thanksgiving, early!




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  1. What a beautiful post. “Thanking brings the peace.” – love that. When I’m struggling I’m going to try and remember this and give thanks for the very things that I’m unthankful for.

  2. Kristen Peckham says:

    Jess, thank you so much for this reminder. Every thanksgiving I had the tradition of making our YL kids write down everything that they are thankful. I never thought of it this way, but it is so true. Thanks so much for your honesty!!

  3. Fantastic post – wow. Really. Today I was pity-partying over something really stupid. Thanks for the wakeup call.

  4. I am struggling on almost every front. Thankyou for this post. I found encouragement here.

    (found you on pinterest)

  5. When my dad was about 2, he was trying to open a bag of… well, either potatoes or oranges depending on how tells the story. That’s not important… what’s important is what happened… he was opening it with a knife. The knife slipped. He stabbed himself in the eye.

    It was my grandmother who was the first to tell me this story, ending with “and I am so thankful for that”.

    Shocking. I know.

    She went on to explain that it was only because he was missing an eye (he had an artificial one) that he was not drafted to go to Vietnam.

    It took 20 years to see the reason, but the reason is always there.

    Remember that God’s plan is many generations long, and the reason for everything may not always be visible in your lifetime.

    But sometimes, when you look backwards at the worst moments of your life, you’ll see it… the reason. I often see pieces of God’s plan in the rear view mirror. Glancing back from time to time helps me solidify my faith. I don’t know if peace is found in the Thanksgiving.

    I find my peace in the faith.

  6. I love this post and I love Corrie Ten Boom. I just had a rough week of sickness with my kiddos and I needed to be reminded of this- that even the unthankful things are things to be thankful for! I know that my heart is most at peace when I can be thankful in the midst of rough days and weeks :) Thanks for sharing!!

  7. Beautiful post, Jessica. I’ve got such an unthankful heart at times. This post reminds me that I don’t need to feel guilty for that. Instead, I should remember to look for the blessing that is somehow attached to whatever I’m struggling with. Thank you for these wonderful words!

  8. I love this piece. I am going to join in, I am thankful for the piles of laundry that have to be washed and dried in my dingy basement that requires me to go down 2 flights of stairs each time to get to because it means I am for sure going to get in a bit of exercise today, and it means I have enough provisions to have to luxury of doing my laundry at home at my convenience instead of having to drag it to a laundry mat during their hours.

  9. I also love the hiding place by corrie ten boom! It may be my favorite book of all time.

    And I am also thankful for my mom, who often brings bananas ! Glad I’m not alone with a bananaless kitchen.

  10. What a wonderful post! I enjoyed your honesty and the reminder that some of our greatest blessings are beautifully packaged by a loving God inside our struggles.

    Happy Thanksgiving :)

  11. I read this several days ago when I found your site through Stacy’s. It’s been a rough week and I’ve been dwelling on your words. I’m finally to the point of writing a similar post since I’ve been able to gain some perspective.

    Thank you for your candor. It’s helped me a lot in just the short time since I’ve found you.

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