Finding my gratitude

The last few years have held numerous challenges and difficulties in my personal life.  Some harder than others.  And I’ve struggled.  I’ve had moments when I felt like my heart was broken into a million pieces that could never be put back together again.  I’ve had dark times of great despair when I wasn’t sure how life would be right again.   I’ve had months of life-wrenching anxiety waiting for something bad to happen at any moment.

I have fought to continue trusting God through it all.  I know I am His child, but I had moments in the darkness where I felt He was distant.  Times were difficult.  I clung to His promises.

And then He showed up like He always does.  He brought me through time and again.  However, I realized I was still struggling with some bitterness and anger.  I had one situation, in particular, that bothered me daily.  Daily I would think about it.  Daily I would be hurt and angry as I thought about how a door was not only shut, but slammed in my face and smashed on my fingers — twice.  It hurt.  It didn’t make sense.  While everything else was better, I wasn’t able to let this go.

"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

I was reminded of the Scripture in 1 Thessalonians that tells us to give thanks in everything.  Sure, I had prayed that God’s will would be done in the situation, and I knew His will was to close this door.  I didn’t know why it had to close as ferociously as it did, though.  I certainly wasn’t thankful.  Every time I thought about this situation, I thought how wrong it was and how hurt I was by it.  A couple of months ago, I challenged myself instead of feeling hurt each time it came to my mind to instead give thanks.

Now when it springs into my mind, I say, “Thank you, Lord, for keeping us where we need to be.”  In being brutally honest and exposed in this post, I will tell you that I don’t always feel that gratitude.  Many times, I’m just saying the words.  But, I can tell you that once I start this prayer, I stop feeling hurt and angry.  I may not feel 100 percent grateful, but I’m letting go of bitterness with each prayer.

I think it follows the same lines of the addage that if you smile on the outside, you’ll end up smiling on the inside.  I think if I sincerely pray this daily when the situation springs to mind then I will eventually find that I truly mean it.  I do want to be where God wants me.  I do want His will.  I just don’t always understand it.  And, yet, I must be grateful.

That’s my lesson this Thanksgiving.  I’ve been humbled and reminded that I must always be grateful.  I have many blessings in my life.  In fact, my blessings outweigh my hardships when I really think about it.  I am challenging myself to be grateful for hardships, just as the Bible instructs.  I know that through God hardships are actually blessings as well.  They may not make sense.  They may hurt like the dickens.  But, praise God, He is in control.  And that is something I don’t have to force myself to be grateful for.

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