When life gets difficult, it’s our sin nature to give in to the challenges. We complain, we get cranky, we doubt that things will turn out well and we can easily become trapped by a negative outlook. A hard situation, a difficult relationship or an outcome that isn’t what we wanted, can even tempt us to sin. On top of that, our own poor attitude can even spoil the moods of those around us. Living life as a defeated person is certainly a way to be but in time, it will only produce more negativity.
Gratitude changes our negativity into rejoicing. In another post, “Gratitude In Every Season” , I shared a free printable to record whatever you’re thankful for. Go there now and print your copy or print several. Fill one up today or take a couple of weeks to write down one thing a day until it’s full. Get into the practice of naming something you are grateful for every single day and do it early. You may not be in a great place today but chances are, the more you focus on good things, the harder it will be to stay focused on the bad. This will lead to rejoicing rather than complaining.
Here are some prompts to help you find things to be thankful for:
Is the sun shining?
Do you have housing?
Do you have food to eat?
Has the Lord saved you?
Did God protect you in a scary situation?
What people has God blessed you with?
Did God teach you a lesson through a challenging time?
The more you name things, the easier it will become and before long you will be filling up that sheet with so many things it will become hard to complain about your life. In practicing gratitude, you will see you have so much to be grateful for and it may even overwhelm you in the best possible way. Gratitude, when practiced regularly, becomes the lens through which we see every situation and even the troubles of this world. It also reminds us of all that the Lord has done in our lives. This too, helps us to trust him and remain joyful in difficult times. This does not mean that we are joyful about the situation we are facing, but rather, we find joy in the Lord through it, because he is good.
If you’re needing a little inspiration, look to Psalm 116. It’s a psalm that fills my heart with gratitude to God for what he has done for me and the many times in which he has rescued me. When I feel cranky or want to complain, it re-centers my attitude rightly toward praising God. It reminds me to trust him with even the little things that attempt to make me stumble because he has always been there with me through the big things.
1 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.
3 The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:
“Lord, save me!”
5 The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
6 The Lord protects the unwary;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
7 Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
8 For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
9 that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said,
“I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said,
“Everyone is a liar.”
12 What shall I return to the Lord
for all his goodness to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord;
I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—
in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.
This psalm begins with remembering how God redeems and saves and ends with a declaration to serve and praise the Lord. It’s a beautiful example of gratitude. It shows how gratitude to God for what he has done, postures our hearts toward rejoicing in God’s goodness and even speaks to his faithfulness to us in our suffering.
I can think of several times in my life where suffering brought me to utter desperation in need of a savior yet God has always heard my cries and pulled me up out of the deep, dark, impossible places. Those big ah-ha moments in our lives have a way of trickling down into the small moments, coloring our outlook from day to day. It’s why I don’t fret a lot of the big stuff that some may fear because I’ve seen God do impossible things. I’ve seen him answer my prayers in ways that far exceeded my needs. I’ve also felt his no and yet, seen the evidence of his goodness amidst my own disappointment.
There are a million and one reasons to live in fear or stay stuck in disappointment or complain about outcomes and situations that I cannot control and I could spend the entire day worrying about them, but why? God has never failed me. Sure, he’s allowed some things that I would not have chosen. Sure, he’s brought consequence I did not enjoy in response to some poor decisions I’ve made. But he has never let me go, not once, not ever and he never will. He’ll never let you go either. I continue to trust that in every storm I venture through and in every situation I face, he will be there with me because that is his character; God is faithful.
When we see God’s works in our lives with his “Only God could have done that” signature stamp across it, we learn to trust and let go. It’s recognizing that the battle is not ours to face alone and was never intended to be. It’s a stillness and peace that reminds us that we are never alone. It’s a quiet joy through the turbulent waters. It’s a deep knowing that even so, God is good.
No matter what you’re facing today, cry out to the Lord. Seek his direction. Trust his ways. Praise him in the waiting. Thank him for all he’s done and rest in his care, knowing that no matter what it is that you’re dealing with today, you are not alone. You are not alone because God has you and that is a wonderful reason to rejoice.
A prayer for today….
When my mind drifts toward worry or defeat, may my heart be anchored in the truth that you have me in your hands. Remind me Lord of all you’ve done for me. Forgive me for my bad attitude, my negative outlook and my complaining when I have felt challenged by hard things throughout the day. Help me to rest in your care, trusting you with my whole life. Thank you God for all the ways in which you have rescued me and provided for me. You have been so, so good to me.
In Jesus’ name,