Posted with permission.

We can praise and thank God for everything from good weather for the family picnic to recovery from a serious surgery. But have you ever thought about giving thanks for what you don’t have—“thanks for nothing,” as author Jessica Shaver phrases it?

“I’m grateful that for years now I haven’t lost my contact lenses in rain-swollen gutters or in bowls of hot noodles. And I’m thankful that the phone call in the middle of the night was the wrong number and not someone calling to tell us about a death in the family.” (Jessica Shaver, “Thanks for Nothing,” The Christian Communicator, November 1996, 15.)

The list of things we don’t have or that didn’t happen might easily outnumber the list of things we do have and that did happen—if we stop and notice. Arnold, who wears Coke-bottle-thick glasses, says he’s thankful he’s not blind. Julie is grateful she didn’t have a clothes dryer while living in Morocco because it forced her to hang her clothes outdoors, get acquainted with neighbors, and watch her children play in the courtyard, all at the same time.

Seventy-year-old Lou, a retired mail carrier, gives thanks for never owning a car. His job required he walk every day. “I stayed fit, kept my tan all year, saw neighbors and friends every day, and got paid to do it!”

Mrs. McNaughton, a 102-year-old resident in a nursing home, says she thanks God she’s deaf. She can read her Bible and other books without the distraction of outside noises!

Maureen is grateful her kitchen didn’t blow up when she left a pot of soup simmering on the stove while she went for a morning walk… and to the post office… and to the grocery store… before realizing what she had done!

Hector said he thanks God for all the colds he didn’t catch, the car accidents he didn’t get into because of driving too fast or too slow, and the debt he avoided by deciding not to buy a new car and computer.

I thank God for all the things He has not given me—like a huge estate on five acres of land. Too much cleaning and gardening! And too many servants to keep track of. I praise God I am short instead of tall. Store clerks can reach the high shelves for me, and my cleaning helper takes care of the cobwebs in the high corners.

And I give thanks for not being a genius, a celebrity, a professional ice skater, a country-western singer, an engineer, a concert pianist or a famous surgeon. God knows what we need and don’t need, and He always provides. We can thank Him for what we don’t have as well as for what we do have.

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust;

(Psalm 56:4)

How about you? What are you grateful for that you don’t have?




Thanking God For What You Don’t Have — 16 Comments

  1. Karen, I’m thankful I don’t have to finish my fourth novel because it just went to publication. I’m even more thankful that I don’t have to use a walker, a wheel chair, a cane, no serious pain, or people I can’t get along with, etc. etc. etc.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. Love your reality and sense of humour in this wonderful life that we are engaged in Karen!
    Yes to all that you are writing about especially at this time.
    Love and Happy Thanksgiving to all, We are So blessed my friends.

    • Thanks, Kathleen. And to you and Don and your dear daughters and ‘grands,’ a most happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Karen, I had to smile when I read your subject because not long ago during the Bible Study I attend I repeated a quote that I had heard: “instead of wishing for the things you want but don’t have,be thankful for the things you don’t want that you don’t have.” Our leader had a thoughtful look on his face ( the minister) and then said:”I don’t want my house to burn down and so far it hasn’t”! I think everyone was a little surprised by his response and so was I because I don’t think I would have thought of that but it was a good statement. The quote really made me do some thinking the first time I heard it and it still makes me be more thankful for what I DO NOT have and since I have so many close friends and a niece and nephew who have Dementia/or Alzheimer’s I thank God each day that I do not have THAT and can finish my book with a clear mind. I am so blessed!
    Thanks for giving us a lot to think about!! We sure do have a lot to be thankful FOR! Thanks, again, for your wisdom and for sharing it. Love to you. Margaret

    • Thanks, Margaret. You always have a thoughtful response and an example from your life. I appreciate your love and support.

  4. I’m so very thankful for my son’s rock climbing accident since his inability to care for himself is giving each of us another chance at working on a relationship that has been strained for years.

    Happy Thanksgiving, Karen!

  5. Love your blog, Karen, and especially your thoughts about being thankful for what we don’t have. I’m thankful for some prayers to which God said no, including a man I thought I wanted to marry, and who would not have been the right partner for me, nor I for him.

    I’m glad I don’t have Parkinson’s Disease. I’m glad I don’t have a huge house to take care of. Oh, and much more.

    • Great spin on Thanksgiving! Now we can be extra thankful this year because of the things we don’t have!
      🙂 Hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family! Brittany comes home today and then my family will be all together. Precious times. Blessings! Sherry

    • Thank you, Carol. I’m with you! So much to be grateful for that we don’t have–as well as what we do have. Much love to you and Don.

  6. Sherry, thanks for your lovely comment. Enjoy your family. I will be with my loved ones too, each year of thanksgiving precious as we live and give thanks in the present.

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