The Healing Power of Gratitude

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

{Setting up my newest gratitude journal}

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to the one who order his way rightly I will show the salvation of God. Psalm 50:23

It was the last thing on my list. To give thanks for the pain. Who wants to do that? How do you say thank you for a gift you never wanted in the first place? How do you express gratitude when the agony is overwhelming? As a friend always tells me, "You fake it til you make it." Do it anyways regardless of how you feel, and eventually the feeling will follow. And is that not what a "sacrifice of praise" is? Thanking Him when you want to do anything but. 

Two years ago, I didn't want to thank Him. I was in too much pain, but I knew after four years of keeping a gratitude journal that I couldn't stop. I needed to express my thanks even in the extreme pain I was going through. Amazingly, as the weeks went slowly by I learned that I had to thank Him. I couldn't survive without the gratitude. To stop would be to sink under a sea of pain. So I kept counting those graces He had given...even counting the "griefs as graces". In the end, the feelings followed. I am so thankful for what He has allowed in my life even the hard parts. I have learned that one of the ways we can muddle through grief is to tackle it with gratitude. Here's a look at what I've learned...

Gratitude in hurt is a sacrifice. God calls it a "sacrifice of praise"...a totally accurate description of what we must do to count "griefs as graces". It's not easy. It takes practice. It goes against every human inclination. We don't naturally do gratitude, and then to heap pain on top of it makes it even worse. The sacrifice though is worth it. God knew that gratitude relieves pain and has the potential to bring healing.

Gratitude reframes the pain. Being thankful helps us to see our life situations with another set of eyes. Pain with purpose is a good thing in that we grow and become more like Him. By listing God's gifts we get to use His eyes to see our lives. It reframes what we thought was terrible into something of bittersweet beauty. By listing the good that was coming out of my pain, I can now see how God was growing me, how He was benefiting my family, how He was blessing us.

Gratitude give hope. In order to heal, you need hope. Hope that life will not always be this dismal. Hope that you will come to a place of peace after you have worked through the grief. Without hope, the road to recovery becomes longer and harder.

Gratitude allows you space to move forward. By being thankful we release the pain. We say to God, "I accept that You have given me this." It is in the acceptance that there is healing. Acceptance allows us to move forward not haunted by our past. I finally found peace when I could truly thank Him for what had happen. I didn't have to fight anymore what He has brought into my life. By laying down my "weapons" of regret, anger, and sadness and exchanging them for gratefulness, I finally could live life unburdened.

Are you struggling with grief? Did something happen in your past that you can't move forward from? Maybe it is time to start counting God's gifts. Here are a few resources for you:

{Affiliate links used.}

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are-Ann Voskamp's book on gratitude. If there is one book to read on the subject it would be this one.

Learning to "count it all joy".

How Gratitude Changes a Heart

Buy yourself a journal to list your gifts.


Carly said...

Great post- thinking about the benefits of gratitude even in pain is really helpful. I especially love your section about how it reframes the pain and that "by listing God's gifts we get to use His eyes to see our lives." I'm really enjoying your 31 Days series- really thought-provoking and helpful.

Debbie P said...

Thank you, Carly, for stopping by and reading! Your words of encouragement mean so much!