Ethan Pierce is a single father who made an appointment with a doctor about his eyes, afraid he was going blind. After a series of tests, the doctor had bad news. “There seems to be something putting pressure on your optic nerves. Probably a brain tumor.”

Ethan, who was wholly responsible for two young daughters, was devastated. Blindness was bad enough but a brain tumor! He was referred to a specialist, but while waiting for his appointment, his headaches worsened, his anxiety kept him sleepless at night, and he anguished over who would raise his daughters.

It was a month before he could see specialists at Vanderbilt Medical Center, but the medical team there was thorough. Afterward, the specialist sat down to give Ethan the news: “You do not have a brain tumor. Furthermore, you don’t even have any serious eye problems. Your headaches are caused by the wrong eyeglasses and by too much aspirin.”

Imagine the relief and thanksgiving Ethan felt. The awful anxiety was gone, and his heart was full of gratitude. No blindness. No tumor. It was like having a death sentence commuted and being released from prison. How he praised God!

Now think of this:

Why does it take a close call like that to make us thankful? Why don’t we pause every day to praise God for all the things that are not wrong with us, that are not going wrong in our lives? Have you thanked Him this week that you’ve not been sick, had a wreck, suffered a loss, or contracted a fatal disease? That you haven’t lost your home to fire or been fired from your job? That you haven’t lost your keys or run out of gas? That your child hasn’t been in trouble?

Someone observed that about ninety percent of the things in our lives are right and about ten percent are wrong. If we focus on the ninety percent, we’ll be thankful. If we focus on the ten percent, we’ll develop stomach ulcers. Which do you focus on?

Thanksgiving affirms our faith in God and in His goodness. The reason we live in a culture of ingratitude is that so many have lost their reverence for God, so there’s no one to thank for the blessings of life.

When we keep our eyes on our blessings, it opens the windows of the soul, drives out doubt, and keeps us out of the dumps. It dispels anxiety and anger. It displaces grumpiness and moodiness. It’s one attitude with no bad side effects. It sees beauty in every leaf, pleasure in every pursuit, and a silver lining in every cloud. It keeps us from taking life for granted, and it drowns out all the static in the culture of ingratitude in which we live.

Once during the darkest days of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt received a letter from someone who suggested that the President cancel annual Thanksgiving activities because of the stark nature of the war. The person felt the times were too grave and there was little to be thankful for.

Eleanor countered by saying, “I can think of a thousand things for which I am deeply thankful. I am grateful for the fact that my country is made up of many peoples; that I have an opportunity to show that I really believe that all men are created equal; that our boys whom I love have not fallen; for my husband’s strength and for his belief in God.”

Perhaps you think that the idea of calling off Thanksgiving is appalling; but many of us cancel Thanksgiving by the simple failure to observe it constantly in our own lives. The Bible says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5).

There’s never a situation in which thanksgiving confuses the issue. It always clarifies. It’s like pulling off our dirty glasses, running them under hot water, and cleaning away the smudges. The ability to count our blessings is the greatest mathematics in the universe.

So take time to count your blessings, name them one by one, being “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).


David Jeremiah is the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church and the founder and host of Turning Point for God. For more information about Dr. Jeremiah or Turning Point, visit