We usually hear the term “unconditional” when speaking of love. But as I was musing today, and thinking of a Thanksgiving blog, I wondered if we could give God “unconditional thanks”. Not just thanking God for the “good” things—but for all things!

We have learned, since childhood, the importance of politely acknowledging gifts and showing our gratitude. So every Thanksgiving, we recount our blessings and offer thanks to our gracious Creator for all the wonderful gifts we have been given. Surrounded by the abundance of harvest, we pause and celebrate the richness of life and the warmth of love that God lavishes on us!

But dare we entertain the idea of giving God thanks for challenges, dilemmas, and disappointments….for people who hurt or anger or misunderstand us? That seems like asking too much from us when we are struggling to make sense out of difficult events or encounters in the rocky road of life. Those people and situations that try our patience or hurt our feelings or even make us suffer—how can we thank God for that?

Years ago I heard the well-known retreat director and author James Finley speak at a summer retreat in which he said that the person who drives us most crazy is our spiritual director!! “No, no, no!” I thought. I just couldn't swallow the thought that those people who played a valuable role in my life were thorns in my side or stumbling blocks in my otherwise smooth-running life. Many “sufferings” later, I came to understand that the times of challenge, even heartache or pain, have been paths through which God’s grace flowed, making me stronger, wiser, and much more compassionate.

So this Thanksgiving season, I wonder: can we give UNCONDITIONAL thanks? Not sifting out only the pleasant and peaceful items, but imagine saying: “for ALL moments of my life this year, I give you thanks, O Lord! In light and darkness, you were there. In the consolations and challenges, you had my back. Seen or unseen, your provident Hand guided me. I thank you for EVERY moment which you gave me to live and love and grow this past year!”

Happy Unconditional Thanksgiving!