One of the things I love most about God is that even when we find ourselves stumbling into some of our most humbling places, He still manages to meet us with His greatest graces.
For the longest time, I underestimated just how much power lies in our gratitude. Grumbling seems to come much more naturally, whereas gratitude may tend to be cultivated or grown over time. We live in a society where unrest and exhaustion are glorified as the norm, and positivity isn’t talked about nearly as much as our negativity. But does it really have to be this way?
I grew my gratitude in my graveyard. Sounds crazy right? My life in this particular season was as painfully dry and desolate as the most barren desert you could imagine. If anything could possibly go wrong, it already happened 5 minutes ago. It felt like I was crippled beneath the weight of all of these painful heavy things crushing in on me, and I couldn’t possibly see the light at the end.
It’s extremely hard to be grateful when everything feels painful. Do you feel that, friend?
One day I went to my counselor, and I told her I didn’t know how much longer I could possibly hang on during this tumultuous season. To my complete surprise, her advice was to challenge me to turn to gratitude. Trust me at that moment I doubted, of all things, gratitude was about to help pull me through, but MAN does God have a way of convicting you!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Giving thanks in “ALL” circumstances is quite a powerful command. Painful experiences are difficult enough to walk through, but God now you want me to be grateful in the midst of them too?
Friend, I promise you, it’s worth it if you do.
My raw initial feelings towards gratitude looked a lot like, “I guess I just have to”. But when I started to think of even the smallest expressions of “thanks”, The Lord in His goodness began to transform me. The more I practiced gratitude the more the painful pieces began to lose their magnitude. While it didn’t completely erase my pain, I gained freedom and peace. My thoughts transitioned from “I have to” to “I GET to”, and I never saw my life, and even the smallest blessings, the same.
When we pause and take a step back from our current circumstances, we grant God the opportunity to take the blinders off the blessings we actually do have. I planted my tiny seeds of gratitude for the blessings I counted, and amidst the dry desert sand, The Lord watered them and breathed life into me again. My heart began to shift from bitterness to joy, and from suffering to hope. I was also faithfully reminded through this process of the real truth that this world is FAR from our real home.
“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come”
Hebrews 13:14 (NIV)
What can you choose to be grateful for today?
Maybe it’s your home.
Maybe it’s a job.
Maybe it’s a friend.
Maybe it’s just a simple cup of really good coffee.
If initially, it’s a struggle to feel the “get to” versus the “have to”, give yourself some grace. As I said, it may take some time, so go at your own pace. The Lord sees your willingness in your heart, so invite Him into this sweet transparent space.
My challenge for you is to count even the littlest blessings you believe God has given unto you, and watch His transformation bloom a beautiful new side of you.