Gratitude; it’s an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation from the heart. It’s an acknowledgment for the blessings in life despite the hardships.
When troubles come, what is my first response? Is it grumbling and complaining? Or do I look for ways to be thankful? Sometimes blessings are in the midst of the storm and only later do you see the gift given through the trial or hardship.
Like the year I was hosting a dinner party and my kitchen oven caught on fire. The evening was exciting as firefighters stormed my house. The party interrupted by smoke--a perfect evening ruined by a faulty stove. Only later did despair give way to thanks when I learned I’d have to have a complete kitchen remodel. My dream kitchen was paid for by insurance! It was an unexpected blessing.
When my expectations are not met, how do I handle disappointment? Is my attitude one of gratitude?
Or like my friend Susan, whose family, dogs, cats and all, had to be evacuated from her home by boat from the floods during Hurricane Harvey. The water engulfed the whole downstairs of her home ruining most everything. But through the devastation, blessings unfolded. She and her husband are able to enjoy a beautiful “custom” remodeled downstairs in their home. Through the loss of many meaningful material possessions, the muscles of gratitude were strengthened knowing that God will provide. He listens and He cares.
On an international return flight from overseas, the sound system and T.V. screen didn’t work in one section of seats. Many passengers around me complained and were angry. Laughing to myself, I wondered that of all the hundreds of seats, why was the one I was sitting in broken on the brand-new airliner? “God you must be up to something.” I knew this would be a very long trip indeed, but I engaged in friendly conversation with others and consoled myself in a book trying to shut out the ambient noise.
Later, the head stewardess approached our section apologizing. Then she issued a large credit in the form of a free airline ticket. “We’re so very sorry for the inconvenience. I hope this helps,” she said. My free ticket was used on a beach trip the following spring.
When a business deal goes sour, or a promotion is blocked or a situation seems to turn for the worse—do I give into despair or do I trust that God has a plan? Gratitude keeps us all from sinking into the mire of self-pity, anger, and depression. There’s always so much to be grateful for even in the midst of trying times.
Take my friend Sandy who took home a car to test drive over the weekend from a car dealership. The following morning sliding into the seat, slipping the key in the ignition, the car wouldn’t start. Her frustration was real. “Are you kidding me, God? I already own a car that won’t run.” Needless to say, the dealership didn’t close the deal over the weekend either.
A few days later though, Sandy’s frustration gave way to thanks when she learned the company she worked for was struggling and she was effectively unemployed. “God was protecting me. He didn’t allow that car to start because He knew I would have bigger issues to face.” Had she signed the car note, Sandy wouldn’t have had the resources at the time to meet the payments. Thankfulness replaced anger. Later, Sandy found a better job with insurance, benefits, better pay, and more. And she was able to buy the new car of her dreams.
Gratitude can open doors of blessing and favor. Thankfulness can lift us from the pit of depression to know that something good or better is on the way or that we are in fact being protected from the wrong decision. Gratitude is an attitude of gratefulness, and it affects every aspect of our lives.
Or what about struggling through unrelenting illness, surgeries, and treatments? We can descend into depression and hopeless or have gratitude that there are medications, surgeries, and options to fight the battle for life.
Like my brother-in-law, Jim, that continues to overcome one battle after another with his bone marrow transplant and fighting off two kinds of cancer: both bladder and then blood cancer. He’s a warrior and our miracle man. His faith and thankfulness have seen him through the darkest of days to a place of hope, healing, and recovery.
Gratitude is a choice and miracles unfold when we give God thanks no matter what comes our way.
I see your struggles. I hear your cries. I see the disappointments and trials you face. But know that no matter what, I am always with you and I am always for you. Gratitude is the lens you can look through to focus on and see the bigger picture. Thankfulness in the midst of trials, pain, or problems frees Me to move in greater ways on your behalf. I know at times it’s a great sacrifice to praise and to trust Me through life’s difficulties. But I can work all things together for your good, because I love you, and because you love Me.
“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)