Please allow a personal anecdote from my new pastime, beekeeping. These critters and their colonies are so intricate, with much to teach us about the Creator.

It is possible to split a colony such that the new one produces its own queen. Every healthy colony has an effective queen. So I started the process, and waited a period of time to see if it worked. I didn’t see positive evidence, so I bought and installed a queen. I took a painful sting in the face for my effort. Alas, that queen did not survive.

I pondered my next move for a few days and considered introducing another queen. I decided to inspect the colony one more time. I immediately noticed new larvae. Then I saw the queen as healthy as you please! The colony had done its job after all, despite my interference. The memory of my pain dissipated, and I was so surprised that I looked to the sky and laughed with God!

I wondered, if I could be so delighted over an insect, what other surprises of gratitude might I be missing? We are grateful for the big things like family additions, material blessings, and physical healing. But even so, it is human to overlook reasons to be thankful. People who know God can still refuse to honor Him or give thanks (Rom. 1:21). Jesus healed ten lepers but it was only the thankful one that received additional blessing (Luke 17).

The Bible says, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thes. 5:18). This is your challenge to look beyond the obvious reasons for thankfulness, and seek the surprises, the hidden blessings of thankfulness. You can be thankful for small things, not just the big ones. You appreciate the colors of autumn across the mountains, but what about the red dogwood and yellow maple leaves in your hand?

You are thankful for things that happened, but what about the things that might have been that were not? You are thankful for good and happy things, but doesn’t “in everything” forge a way forward in the face of evil, suffering, and sadness? “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2-3). If you find no other reason for thankfulness when life is hard, at least be thankful that this is not all there is, that sickness, tragedies, and politics do not have the final word.

When you are thankful to God, you become teachable to Him. You acknowledge His sovereignty over all of life, and admit that you are not in control. Look for reasons to give thanks in everything. You might be surprised how blessings abound. “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving” (Psa. 95:1-5).