Recently a close friend of mine was preparing a devotional on gratitude and asked if I would share any insights I might have about gratitude in suffering in relation to some of the things I have walked thru. It was such a great question as it prodded me to do some heart searching, praying and ultimately thanksgiving to God for his great goodness.
Reaching far back and remembering the last few years thru the lens of gratitude. . . I feel that there has been a important link between God’s faithfulness, hope and gratitude for me. I have a hard time separating each of those into their own categories as it seems they have all had a direct effect on one another during that time (and now as well).
This is what my experience was:
God’s Faithfulness (looking into the past, seeing/believing He is faithful) —> Gratitude —> Hope
—> more gratitude —> God’s faithfulness (Seeing/believing in the present)
Gratitude has not come easily but has been essential to walking thru suffering well. . . To coming out on the other side. It was something I’ve had to plea with God for. . . to wrestle with my flesh for. I battled greatly with unbelief. . . That was about the time that I was challenged to read thru the Psalms with red pencil in had underlining truths that speak of His faithfulness. That’s where the heart change started to take place and the “gratitude cycle” began. It’s not that I immediately felt grateful. . .but I was grateful. Does that make sense? . . . sometimes we have to tell our hearts what they need to do. Looking back I think without gratitude in the midst of suffering, I would still be stuck where I was. God used gratitude when I was in a place of utter brokenness as a healing balm.
And you know what is amazing? I look back on those years. . .the most difficult years of my life. . .and there is so much gratitude. And that cycle of seeing God’s faithfulness -> gratitude -> hope starts all over again. He has been faithful to bring me thru what I thought I wouldn’t survive and has used the hard to make me more like Jesus. That’s a lot to be grateful for!
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.”