What We Can Learn from Joseph about Thanksgiving

Learn from Joseph Give Thanks

We’re entering the week of Thanksgiving. But Thanksgiving is not just a holiday. It’s an attitude. A lifestyle.

In fact, Paul tells us in Thess 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Similarly, Ephesians 5:20 says we should be, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So we know that gratitude and giving thanks to the Lord is important, and we know that means to give thanks in, and even for everything.

But the big question is, how?

How do we give thanks in all things?

I see praises all the time in my facebook feed–

I got that job I wanted, God is good.
My car got fixed, God is good.

Things are going my way, so God is good. It’s easy to give thanks to God when things are going well, when everything is rainbows and roses, and life is giving us warm fuzzies.

But what about those times when life just seems to kick us when we’re down? Those times when we lose loved ones, get a devastating diagnosis from the doctor, or lose jobs, or lose homes? The times that make us cry the ugly cry and scream and rail at the heavens. The times that make us want to just give it all up.

It’s easy to thank Him for the good times, but how do we thank God for the bad ones? 

The Lord recently spoke to me through the story of  Joseph (from the OT). If anyone dealt with really bad circumstances, it was him. He was sold into slavery. He was thrown in prison when he did the right thing. He could easily have become very bitter.

But he didn’t. And when he meets his brothers, he offers them forgiveness and tells them something that I think we can learn from.

God’s Sovereignty

Here is what Joseph said to his brothers:

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.  For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. 

Perspective is so important in our Christian lives. In this short passage, Joseph points out that it was God who sent him there, and that God had a purpose.

I love this story because the Lord gives us a little peek into how things work. In our lives, we don’t always get to see behind the scenes. There are times when we may never see the good that comes from a tragedy. But we can trust that it’s there because God’s word makes that promise in Romans 8:28.

But in this story, we get a front row seat. We see the evil actions, and the dire circumstances. We see how so many things went badly for Joseph. But we also see how the Lord was with him through it all. We see God moving here and there, and how everything worked according to His plan, even when it may have seemed things were spiraling out of control. God had a handle on it the whole time.

Joseph understood that the God is sovereign. Nothing could touch Joseph that the Lord did not allow. His brothers and their evil plan weren’t in charge of his life. Bad circumstances weren’t in charge of his life.

Joseph did not give other people or his circumstances that kind of power over him. He recognized that God, alone, was in charge of his life.

You and I can learn from that today. We can give thanks in and for all things, when we trust in the sovereignty of God. Because we know and trust that He is orchestrating our lives for His glory and our good.


learn from joseph giving thanks


  1. Regina Merrick says

    What I always get from Joseph’s story is that Thankfulness and bitterness can not abide together! Thanks, Crystal!

  2. says

    I love this post, Crystal! You are so right that we don’t get to see the big picture, but God is the same, regardless of our circumstances. The key is learning to praise Him in both the good and the bad knowing that He is working in them both. Thanks for this reminder today. Blessings to you and yours.

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