Gratitude has often been a hard principle for me to embrace.
There have been times when I’ve known that I should feel grateful to God, full of praise and love, but I didn’t. I just felt pain. Darkness. An overwhelming sense that nothing was ok and never would be. A sense of abandonment. A feeling like the sparks of good did so little to combat the bad.
Have you ever felt like that? You’re not alone. In the midst of these times, I’ve wrestled to figure out a way to praise God. It’s been work but it’s also been an overwhelmingly beautiful experience. It goes beyond platitudes and hashtags and the Thanksgiving table.
I hope these ideas act as a starting point if you want to find a way to balance your pain with praise.
Give Thanks for Every Little Thing
If you don’t know where to start, begin with building a righteous habit. I decided I would stop and praise God for every good thing I experienced as a way to tune my heart to heaven’s blessings.
Was the fast food delicious? Thanks God. Did I enjoy a song? Thanks God. Was my bed snuggly? Thanks God. Did I accomplish something? Thanks God.
Little changes to the heart go a long way.
Study God’s Character
It’s hard to feel grateful for a God that has become warped or distorted in your mind. Many things can frame God as an angry tyrant, an unfeeling king, or a distant bystander.
Seek out resources that focus on the character and attributes of God. Ask in prayer for a better understanding of who God is and that His nature will be revealed to you.
A great way to learn more about God and how He works is through this Gospel Study Guide about God the Father. You may also want to search for things Jesus Christ said about the Father.
Express Gratitude to Loved Ones
When we give thanks to our loved ones, we also give thanks to God. Expressing gratitude and appreciation for the people in our lives can be a great bridge to noticing some of the goodness around us and softening our hearts to the principle of gratitude.
Pain and Praise Can Coexist
We often feel that praising God when we are in pain somehow invalidates our feelings. We can experience pain, hurt, anger, and other negative emotions while still praising God.
If you have a hard time balancing the two, consider setting a timer when you pray. Start by giving a set time for your pain. Talk about these things with brutal honesty.
Then stop, take a breath, and give the same amount of time for praise.
In times of trial, gratitude can be difficult, but more essential than ever. Striving to find ways to connect with heaven when we don’t feel like it can help sanctify our hearts and bring peace to our souls.