Is it still considered giving thanks if you are crying while you’re doing it? I’m being hit with one thing after another lately. I’m really trying to not let the problems overtake me, but it gets so overwhelming. I want to come to a point that I give thanks in everything, but do you know how hard that is?
Being Thankful When It’s Rough
I have these times in my life often for some reason. Many times they go on for several days or weeks. When it’s happening, I often find that I have withdrawn into myself and stopped communicating with others because I am focused on trying to make it to the next thing. I go on autopilot. This time, though, I am actually trying to give thanks for the positives in the rough situation.
What flipped the switch for me was when one of my Bible study leaders, during prayer time, thanked God for the extreme cold we are having. To be honest, I almost rebelled right then and there! What in the world was she doing? I hate cold weather with a passion. But this sweet lady was giving thanks because it might mean less allergies and bugs in the spring. Okay, she had a good point. So I decided to climb off my mental ledge of rebellion and go along with the prayer.
There actually can be positives to the negatives. Gold is purified by fire. Diamonds are formed in high temperature and pressure. A pearl is formed when a parasite enters an oyster or mollusk and its defense mechanism attacks the parasite, covering it with layers of mother-of-pearl. It’s the same for us. We are changed by the rough times in our lives by becoming stronger, adding skills and education to tackle the new problems, and/or giving us an entirely new status in life in which we can move in different directions than we would have before the problem happened. However, we have to let it change us for the better and not allowing bitterness to take over.
I know all this to be true. I have even experienced it throughout my life, but it’s a hard process. (Have I mentioned how hard it is to stay thankful in all circumstances?) But sometimes the hardest things to do in life are the best, and living thankfully has an impact. My sweet friend battled cancer for 18 months. After she was told her cancer had come back for a second time, every time I saw her, she spoke about how amazed she was that she had cancer in her body because she felt so good. She was thankful about how she felt. She had such joy in her eyes even though she’d learned that the battle had to continue. I saw her faith shining on her face. It was something I will never forget.
In those moments, it didn’t mean that she wasn’t sad, concerned or overwhelmed by the fact that the cancer had returned and what that could mean. I know that wasn’t true, but she kept refocusing on the positive. Her husband told me, when I went to see her days before she lost her battle, that she didn’t need to take all the pills she was taking to combat the cancer anymore if she didn’t want to do it. She told him that as long as she was able, she would continue to fight. As it turned out, that was the last day she was up and awake. Her resilience to seek the positive was still there. She knew she was losing the battle, but she remained focus.
It Can Be Done
Keeping our eyes on what’s good can be done even as our hearts are breaking, hope is failing, and tears are streaming down our cheeks. I want to live my life thankfully. I want to give thanks in all circumstances even though it is seemingly an impossible directive. The Bible says to “Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) However, it’s not saying we have to do it in our own power or that in doing so we have to pretend we are happy. He doesn’t want us to not be genuine.
We need to admit we need help. And not just any help. We need God’s help. There is such freedom and strength in being aware of His presence and following His lead in everything we do. Allowing Him to guide you makes everything you set out to do possible. That’s also how you’re able to give thanks in all circumstances. Knowing that He holds your hand and says, “Don’t be afraid, I will help you,” changes everything. (Isaiah 41:13)
The Creator of the universe Himself holds your hand and helps you. I can feel the joy bubbling up and want to give thanks!
~ Joanna Lynn