Learning how to keep gratitude vital in the face of suffering
This of the most basic manners we teach our kids. We generally start by instructing them how to appropriately make a request for something and how to graciously receive it. How do you ask? “Please!” What do you say? “Thank you!” These two simple communication tools (which incidentally seem to have been misplaced in our social media world) are not merely expressions of good manners, they are declarations of good character! As we approach the American holiday of Thanksgiving, we want to focus on being thankful in a way that goes beyond typical platitudes. How can we be truly and deeply thankful - even when our life experiences are difficult and harsh? How can we make true thankfulness a way of life and not just words of praise?
We often think of gratitude as an act of reciprocity – someone does something that has positive benefit and we show appreciation by being thankful. While this is a good place to start, true gratitude can be expressed for many wider and deeper reasons. Take loyalty for example, the ongoing experience of having someone exhibit life-long loyalty towards us. True gratitude is not here expressed in a simple gesture of thanks to them. It is expressed in our transformed life actions that their loyalty affords us. This kind of thanksgiving makes us better, as it continually draws us up to a higher standard and quality of life.
As we begin to understand the broad application gratitude can have, we need to pause and consider its role in our hard life experiences. Pain and thanksgiving are not obvious partners. As a matter of fact, some of our greatest gratitude experiences are driven by pain and suffering leaving us. This is the gratitude of relief, and it is important and appropriate. As Christians, it is our charge to rise to higher levels of thanksgiving. A verse in 1 Thessalonians instructs us, “In everything give thanks.” The obvious implication here is to grow into an attitude of life that is able to express thanksgiving not only when a bad experience ends, but as we are going through it as well.
How do we do this? Being thankful in the midst of pain and suffering is not natural, it is not easy and it is, frankly, not even expected by our peers. Yet, this is our goal. Check out our November 25, 2019 podcast, “How Can We Be Thankful When Life is So Hard?” We not only walk through biblical principles of gratitude and its application, we also share a dramatic personal testimony from a Christian woman. This woman lives with chronic and severe pain daily and has for years. It has completely changed her life and essentially taken away many of her previous opportunities. In her testimony she recounts how she has learned to accept this hard way of life. She also shares the new-found power and privilege she has been given because of this trial. Do not miss this inspiring view of gratitude!
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