It’s often easy to practice gratitude when you’re on the receiving end of life’s greater fortunes. But do you still feel grateful during times of hardship or the doldrums of everyday living. It can be hard to see the goodness when we are living in the shadows of life. But that is when we need gratitude the most. That’s when we must go looking for it.
Being thankful during hard times didn’t sound exciting. It was confusing. Saying thank you for pain and heartache?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that gratitude will come easily or naturally in hardships. It’s easy to feel grateful for the good things. No one “feels” grateful that he or she has lost a job or a home or a loved one or good health or has taken a devastating hit on his or her retirement portfolio.
The list can go on, but it’s possible to change our perspective despite life’s hardships. We can change our brain chemistry toward feeling more at peace with ourselves and become more grateful.
While it is true that in the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.
“Gratitude is one of the most powerful human emotions. Once expressed, it changes attitude, brightens outlook, and broadens our perspective.”
― Germany Kent
Easier said than done. True. But is it doable? Yes.
Being grateful is a choice, a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives. When disaster strikes, gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances. Yes, this perspective is hard to achieve – and it’s worth the effort.
Can I share with you my gratitude transformation?
My husband and I are happily married for 4 years and counting. We’re so grateful beyond words for God granted our heart’s desire – yes, I got pregnant after three years of waiting! But after 11 weeks I had miscarriage.
Before it happened to me, I had no idea what to expect from a miscarriage. I didn’t know it was possible to be pregnant and planning for a baby one day and then have your world come crashing around you the next.
Our faith is greater than our fear. We never lose hope. We know God has a purpose and He has plan for us. We hold on to His promises. Yes! He’s faithful to His promises – He granted us again for the second time such a wonderful gift – I got pregnant and after 9 weeks I had missed miscarriage.
I felt empty and heavy hearted.
How was I going to walk among people, especially when the world is biased against childless women? The trouble with miscarriage is that most people don’t understand what it is you’ve actually lost.
One of the most frightening , and overwhelming, aspects of pregnancy is that so much is out of your control. You cannot always control when you get pregnant, and it is out of your hands whether that baby will grow into a little person. All you can do is follow advice and prepare your body as best as you can – and that doesn’t guarantee anything. This can be very hard to accept.
With miscarriage, there are often unanswered questions. Like us, we never find out what caused it. When something this devastating happens – and you don’t know why – it can be both frightening and frustrating.
The feeling of emptiness was overwhelming. But then – God reminded me once again through His words.
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:20
Oh yes! I have so many things to be grateful for. Instead of focusing on what had happened and beating myself up about it, I chose to focus on what was actually good:
- I’m alive!
- I am blessed with family who loves me unconditionally.
- I have an amazing husband.
- I have true friends beside me.
- I have wonderful community.
- I am complete. All my senses are functioning well.
- I have a job.
- I can enjoy whatever food I want.
- I can run, I can walk, I can travel to enjoy the Nature.
- I can laugh. I can dance. I can sing.
- I am healthy and I never lose the chance of getting pregnant again!
- I have countless blessings!
After counting all my blessings, I realized how much I truly have, how blessed my life is, how many kind and generous people are in the world, and how I am always provided for.
That made me grateful for what I had gone through. Yes, I had lost 2 babies but I gained 2 angels in heaven. We’re hopeful but we surrender everything to the Lord. In fact, the laboratory and medical results reassures me that I am completely fine! I had to recognize the benefit of being content the way I am, and be thankful that I am still healthy, even though I lost them.
Sometimes losing someone or something which you once held so dear is the thing that points you to gratitude. And sometimes, the lowest times are what make us stronger.
Indeed, God clearly gives me hope and there’s a bright future ahead of us!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11
I am still absorbing the lessons, and they are powerful ones. What have I learned?
- I have learned to accept the reality that there are things in life which are beyond our control.
- I have learned in those challenging times that I have to let go and not to dwell on the things that already happened.
- I have learned to notice the good in every situation. What is there now that I didn’t notice before?
- I have learned that I need to connect with the people that matter the most to me.
- It showed me my inner progress: I didn’t panic. I didn’t beat myself up.
Three simple things that you can do the next time you face a challenging situation:
- Accept that what has happened, happened. Don’t beat yourself up for what you didn’t do. Drop resistance and fighting what is and instead focus on what you can do now.
- Focus on what’s good in the situation. Ask yourself, what are the lessons to be learned from this? And make a gratitude list as fast as possible.
- Talk about the good that came from the event rather than constantly repeating a negative story to others. Integrate the lessons, let it go, and move on.
I’m grateful from the time I wake up in the morning until I lie down to sleep.
I am grateful beyond words.