Gratitude in a Time of Pain
Today, I'd like to focus on gratitude. There is currently so much that is wrong in this world, that it seems ridiculous for me to write on this topic. How can we possibly be grateful when there is so much pain in the world? It doesn't seem possible. But, maybe this is when we need to practice gratitude the most. If we wait until there isn't anything going wrong in the world to be thankful, we may be waiting a long time. Today, we have the choice to be thankful. And that choice can make a big difference in how we feel.
Psalms 100:1-5 declares:
"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."
Gratitude starts with our relationship with God. We choose to be grateful for who God is. We are grateful that God's love endures forever. That God's faithfulness never ends. That God is always at work for our good and the good of the world, even in the midst of pain and uncertainty. Therefore, gratitude is not dependent on our current circumstances. We can experience gratitude in the midst of pain. We can focus on God's goodness in the midst of sorrow.
The power of gratitude is that it begins to focus our minds on what is good in the world. Gratitude does not pretend that bad things don't exist. Instead, gratitude reminds us that bad things aren't the only things that exist. Sometimes while we're watching the news, it can feel like only bad things exist. But good things are still happening in the world. God is still at work in your life and in the world. Gratitude helps you to see where God is showing up. It brings you hope and resilience in the face of difficult times. It also helps you to savor the good times more fully.
I would invite you this week to force your mind to focus on gratitude. This isn't going to be easy. It might even feel wrong to do it, like you are diminishing the suffering of others by choosing to focus on the good in your life. Don't give in to your mind's resistance. Keep pushing. You will gain a new resilience in the face of the current challenges set before you. You will gain much needed energy that will propel you forward to continue to serve others and share God's goodness with everyone you come in contact with. You will find joy as you finally see all the good that is in your life which has been hidden from your awareness by all the bad things your mind has focused on. And most importantly, that joy will fill your heart with a sense of hope.
May you focus on the good in your life and delight in the goodness of God this week.