Gratitude in the Valley of Shadows

Gratitude in Thoughts - Find how to focus on what you are grateful for when trials and discouragement threatens your view. Click to read more! #marriage #troubles #thoughts #Scripture #anxiety #encouragement #inspiration

Today, I’m honored to have Sarah Geringer—a friend that I met through the blogosphere and roomed with at She Speaks in 2017—as my guest today, speaking on how to transform our thoughts. She’s even written a book on this subject! You can find out more about that incredible resource, hot off the presses, along with Sarah’s bio below!

I woke to the luscious scent of purple irises. I had placed a vase of them on my nightstand in April 2015, when my husband packed his belongings and left. Those delicate flowers in my favorite color reminded me to give thanks inside a valley of shadows.

Gratitude in Thoughts - Find how to focus on what you are grateful for when trials and discouragement threatens your view. Click to read more! #marriage #troubles #thoughts #Scripture #anxiety #encouragement #inspiration

My parents divorced when I was four, and their split permanently altered my worldview. The fear of abandonment held me captive for decades and persisted throughout my challenging marriage. On the night my husband left, I was taken aback by the sight of his empty closet. It reminded me of a whitewashed tomb.

I burst into tears after holding myself together for our heartbroken children. Suddenly, I was living out my literal worst nightmare, when my own father had left me and forever changed my world. I didn’t want that future for our children, yet I feared I was staring death in the face.

Satan tempted me to lean into the shadows of that valley. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and hide from my fears. My flesh longed to wallow in self-pity and hopelessness, but God nudged my spirit. He cast a gentle light into my valley of suffering.

The Lord encouraged me to look for reasons to be thankful even when I couldn’t see what the future held. I began searching for thankfulness every day though my heartache didn’t relent.

As I began searching, I glimpsed gratitude in everyday moments:

  • The musical sound of my oldest son’s laughter.
  • The warmth of my middle son’s lingering hugs.
  • My daughter’s precious gap-toothed smile.
  • The fresh scent of newly mown grass.
  • The first sweet strawberries of spring.

Abundant life was undeniable, all around me. As I sought out thanksgiving, I found hope and joy against the backdrop of darkness. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but a shift in attitude changed my perspective.

Inside your valley of shadows, thankfulness is a choice. We can choose to give thanks to God even while living out our worst fears. No matter which valley we walk through, we can look for glimpses of gratitude on the journey.

[bctt tweet=”No matter which valley we walk through, we can look for glimpses of gratitude on the journey. #grateful #thoughts @SarahGeringer” username=”@BethSteffaniak”]

The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV,

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Note that it does not tell us to give thanks for all circumstances. But we are commanded to give thanks in all circumstances, because it is God’s will, not our own.

I was not thankful for my marriage separation nor the fears of abandonment it stirred in me. My children’s tears and my reasonable concerns did not create gratitude. But God wasn’t asking me to be thankful for those painful realities.

God wanted me to pour my heart out to him in honesty, not brush a veneer of false thanksgiving over my deep hurts. My prayers took on new depth in that season. When I got the hard things out of the way in prayer, God opened space for me to see reasons for rejoicing.

[bctt tweet=”Find out why @SarahGeringer says: When I got the hard things out of the way in prayer, God opened space for me to see reasons for rejoicing. Then discover how you can too! #Prayer #faith ” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

As I deliberately chose to be thankful, God gave me the power to fight back in that valley. My temptation toward fear diminished every time I spoke words of thanks to God in prayer.

Gratitude in my valley of shadows pointed me toward God’s life-giving light.

Our separation lasted five weeks, yet the lessons I learned in it have made a lasting impact on my faith. Other valleys since that time have been lit up with thanksgiving. The shadows seem less threatening because I recognize God’s nudges toward gratitude along the way.

Inspired by Sarah’s words? Want to focus on, even pray, Scriptures that stir up your gratitude to God? Then click on this link to download a free pdf printable. (It will open in a new tab and you can download it at the “…” in the upper righthand corner.)

Gratitude Bible Verses - Click to go to MM where you can download this free printable and use it to stir up gratitude to God! #gratitude #encouragement #inspiration #thanksgiving #troubles #Bible #Scripture

Click on Sarah’s book below to check it out on Amazon!

Transforming Thoughts - Book by Sarah Geringer

Sarah Geringer is a speaker, artist and author of Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus and three self-published books. She is on the devotional writing teams forEncouragement for Today, A Wife Like Me, Devotable, Hope-Full Living and Woman 2 Woman Ministries. When she’s not reading over 100 books per year, Sarah enjoys painting, baking, gardening and playing the flute. Her daily must-haves are hot tea, dark chocolate, and fresh flowers. She lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children. Sarah writes about finding peace in God’s Word at

Congratulations to Ashley Rowland, who is the randomly chosen winner of my Bible study—Ephesians: Breaking Down Barriers & Living Secure. I hope you are blessed by it, Ashley! And if you haven’t snagged your copy at the reduced price of $8.50, know that you only have till Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 before it goes back to it’s original price of $9.99! So head there ASAP!


What are some of the things you are thankful for in your life, even in the middle of a valley?


What are some lessons God has taught you through the valleys in your own life?


Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me MondayKingdom BloggersLiterary Musing MondaysTea and Word TuesdayPurposeful FaithTell His StoryInstaEncouragements LinkupRecharge WednesdayPorch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies WednesdaySitting Among FriendsTune in ThursdayHeart EncouragementGrace and Truth Faith and Friends Faith on Fire FridayFresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday


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I am a member of the Amazon Associates Program. So please be advised that this post and website contain affiliate links that earn an advertising and referral commission for me, if and when you make a purchase through various links found on site.

However, this comes with no extra cost to you and will not increase the price you pay for any items you decide to buy on Amazon. It is simply a way for me to earn some support for the ministry expenses of this blog. Thank you in advance for being willing to use any Amazon links as searching tools!

19 responses to “Gratitude in the Valley of Shadows”

  1. I’m sure Sarah’s book is a good one. I like that she pointed out we aren’t to give thanks for everything, but in everything. There is a difference. Even when things don’t seem to go well, we can be sure that God is aware and He is still with us and still loves us. He knows what is best. I don’t always remember to thank Him, but I’m learning to find things to be thankful for every day. Sometimes all it takes is to just stop and look around. Gratitude really does make a difference.
    Blessings to you, Beth, and Sarah! Thank you for featuring her. I’m your neighbor at #InspireMeMonday.


    1. Hi Gayl, thank you for reading and commenting today. I am glad it reminded you to stop and look around for reasons to be grateful! Blessings to you.


  2. Getting the hard things out in prayer is really hard! But then, what comes after is worth every moment. Finding gratitude in the valley and hanging on with everything I have!


    1. Amen to this, Aryn! Thank you for visiting today.


  3. So good and so hopeful.
    You’re sharing important truth here for navigating the dark times.
    Thank you, Sarah AND Beth!


  4. We were singing at church yesterday about praising God from the mountaintops. Which is great. But all I could think was, “I want to praise God from the valley.”
    It feels easier on top of the mountain. But when things are hard and I’m alone and feel far away from God, I want my heart to praise in that space more than ever.


  5. Oh Sarah, this right here –> ‘My temptation toward fear diminished every time I spoke words of thanks to God in prayer.’

    I’ve found this to be so true … and I am grateful.


  6. I’m passing through the shadowed valley,
    and there is smoke in every breath
    on the way to the my finale,
    the road to cancer’s dusty death.
    This need not be a place of woe;
    indeed, my step is quick and light
    as down the darkling path I go
    unto the day of Final Fight.
    Though not the fate I would have chosen,
    it’s yet a fitting ending-page,
    and my life will soon be frozen
    before the weakening of age.
    I will soon stand before the Lord
    with happy heart, and bloody sword.


  7. I very recently had to stop that pull of looking at the valley of darkness and turn my thought in the direction of Christ in me. Naming off all the many good and beautiful things and people that surround me. I am so thankful that despite all of the things I feel limited on, that God is greater than each limitation as He works through me! I’m so humbled and thankful that I was a part in leading a 22yr old girl to God’s saving grace so that she is now a redeemed child of God. There is no sweeter thing than to be present when a person receives salvation!


  8. Sarah, this is a powerful testimony! I loved your point about giving thanks IN all situations; I’ve never noticed that distinction before. Congratulations on your book, by the way! It looks awesome.

    Beth, I’m honored to have been chosen to receive your Bible study. I look forward to reading it!


  9. The hard arts are life-changing, and I have to fully rely on God’s grace and strength to get through them. Some of the toughest days have reminded me to be grateful for great friends/family. They have carried me when I could not carry myself. I love how you used the verse to show that wording is everything. There is always something to be grateful for even in our toughest days.


  10. I’ve learned compassion towards others and unconditional positive regard in my valley travels. I’ve learned that I judge too quickly and forgive too slowly. Most of all, I’ve learned that I CAN change with the Holy Spirit guiding me :).


  11. Sarah,
    So glad to be reading your post here today at Beth’s place. I don’t know if there is anything harder than giving thanks right smack dab in the middle of our deepest hurts and trials. You are so right in saying the gratitude is a choice. I may not “feel” grateful at the moment, but by being obedient and giving thanks in all circumstances, it begins to shift our outlook. It’s hard to be grateful and grumpy at the same time. Thank you as always, for honest reflections from REAL experiences.
    Blessings sweet friend,
    Bev xo


  12. Gratitude in everyday moments <— I love that Sarah and Beth. Sarah, your story is powerful! Thanks for this encouraging post!

    Pinned & tweeted.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!


  13. Thanks for this reminder. Gratitude helps us see things like they truly are; God is always in control. Many blessings to you!


  14. Thank you, Beth, for sharing Sarah’s writing with us and thank you, Sarah, for your candor and honesty. You both have helped encourage us today. Sarah, the way you faced your separation is inspiring. To face your deepest fear in such a strong way is a tribute to your character. God gave you the strength to face the storm and you came through to the other side. Wonderful!


  15. This is a beautiful reminder to find things to be thankful for in every circumstance. 8 years ago, I went through a life threatening illness that left me as a quadruple amputee. Not only did my faith grow through that challenge but I found so much to be grateful for. I believe that our trials and temptations are there as a refining fire, to make us grow. They grow our faith and teach us how to lean on the Lord. At the time, I couldn’t see it, but once I started looking for the blessings, that’s when I grew.


  16. I found this post so inspirational this week. It was also the most clicked on the #LMMLinkup. Thanks for sharing.


  17. […] Continue reading my guest post at Messy Marriage HERE. […]


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