Gratitude is a big word, and far-reaching. Stretch it out–from one end of your life to the other–and consider when you’ve been grateful and when you haven’t.
When things go well for us, it’s easy to feel grateful. But think about those times in our lives when gratitude was absolutely not felt because we were hurt in some way; disappointed, or betrayed. It sounds crazy to be grateful for that, doesn’t it?
Think about how disappointment or betrayal has affected us. Think about how we hated it, how depressed we were, how we may have wanted to strike back. During those times, anything remotely resembling gratitude was dead and buried.
But then, how did those disappointments and betrayals change us? Did we only whine, “poor me?” Or did we become stronger?
Difficult times will produce action on our part. Those actions can be negative or positive. It’s our choice. In other words, we can continue to live and love, or we can kill of that part of ourselves with a pity party.
It may sound crazy, even a little sadistic, to say to yourself: Be grateful for this difficult time. But if we look ahead, past the pain we are experiencing, we can often see something new happening.
A woman in labor experiences trauma and pain, but she sees a new life coming, too. And she is grateful for that. Isn’t it possible to look at the painful traumas of our life in the same way? None of us enjoy pain; and why should we? Some may go through it with resignation, a stiff upper lip, but is that the best way? Or is the best way to be grateful to God for all the events of our lives?
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.–James 1:2-5