Practicing gratitude through hardship
Updated: Dec 3, 2020
When times get tough, it's even more important to be content and grateful.
Gratefulness. Thanksgiving is tomorrow and we’re supposed to meditate on what we’re thankful for. What is something in your life that you aren’t content with? Do you find yourself saying things like, “If only I had a bigger house, then I would be a more chill mom” or “If I just had a better paying job, then I would be a kinder spouse.” Those are lies that you’re telling yourself because they’re easier than the truth. The truth is, you lack contentment. First, solve your heart problem. Learn to be grateful for your circumstances. Practice this habit by keeping a gratitude journal where, everyday you write down 3 new things you’re grateful for. I will sometimes just pray and thank God for everything in my life to reset my attitude.
As you practice your habit of gratitude, notice what you’re thankful for. It’s easy to be thankful for the good things. If you have health, food, and shelter, people would say you are doing well. If you have abundant wealth and are surrounded by loved ones, most people would say you are doing exceptionally well. But that is a highly circumstantial form of gratitude. You're likely to get tossed in the wind the next time things go south.
When are you thankful for the hard times and trials you’ve faced? This past year has been very difficult for many people. There has been job loss, economic and political upheaval, social tensions, and widespread loss of life. We can’t ignore those facts. However, it is possible to be content and grateful in the midst of hardship. You can carry sorrow and joy simultaneously. Bitterness won’t make this year any less challenging than it already is but it will weigh you down and increase your burden.
When I look back on my life, with all of its challenges, I see God’s providence and am exceedingly thankful. I see how my lowest points have brought me exactly where I am now. When I lost my job and apartment after college and had nothing left (I discuss this in Episode 2: Who do you think you are), I was at my most destitute point in my adult life. 10 years later, I see why I had to go through that. It led me to living in a very cheap house with five roommates, one of whom happened to be my future husband.
If you can look back on your life and see how the challenging times have resulted in positive outcomes, it is easier to be grateful for any future trials you go through.
“Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” - James 1:2-4 (NASB)
I’m thankful for trials because they teach me traits and skills I need to grow. The saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is based on this concept. If you’re wise, you’ll leverage the opportunity to learn and come out a better person on the other side. After the initial challenging years of marriage, you learn to communicate and forgive better. After enduring a grueling marathon, you will have no problem running a 10k.
This has been a dumpster fire of a year for many people but bitterness is not the answer. These rough circumstances do not have to affect your ability to be content and peaceful. Let’s join together and be thankful for everything this year - even the things that have tested our endurance.
Hi, there! I go deeper into topics in my podcasts. Each are about 20 minutes long and they drop weekly. Please check one out here!