Experiencing Thankfulness in the Midst of Painful Situations

C.S. Lewis said it well in his book, A Grief Observed. “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course, it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” This is a season of thanksgiving. A season most love and look forward to, but maybe not you. Life is hard. Life is cruel. You look at others with smiles on their face and wonder why you can’t be happy, but then you remember it's because of your pain. We may not be able to control our circumstances, but we can make a choice of how we are going to walk through them. If this is a month of pain for you, here are some practical ways you can choose to be thankful.

Have a thanksgiving journal.

I will be the first to admit that when I’m in the midst of a painful season of life, I willingly choose to see all of the things that are hard and painful and not see that which is still good. It is natural for me to focus on the bad, so this step (although simple) is unnatural which makes it hard. This month, I challenge you to get a thanksgiving journal and fill it with 1,000 things you are thankful for in your life. Today it may be as simple as the first sip of your soda or a warm bed. For me, it was my first sip of morning coffee. What are you thankful for today? Write those things down! By the end of the month, you’ll have a book of thankfulness. I bet you never thought you’d write a book, huh?

Unplug and spend quality time with someone else.

Our pain can cause us to be selfish. I hate to put it out there so strong but I don’t know a nicer way to say it. When we are so consumed with our hurts and our pains, we tend to miss out on what others are going through or even fail to see we have people that love and care about us and want to spend time with us. There is so much we can miss when we are consumed with our own pain. This month, I challenge you to take one day a week and completely unplug from social media to spend quality time with someone else, doing something they want to do (and enjoy it!). You will be surprised at how much joy you will get from thinking of others first, even if it’s inten- tional, only once a week.

Serve family, a friend, a neighbor, a stranger.

This is similar but a little different than challenge two above. Challenge two is about spending quality time with someone, while this is more about serving someone else, doing something helpful for them. This may be going to a neighbors’ house and raking their leaves or making breakfast for your family or sending a friend a nice text or DM. Think about the people in your life, what are things you could do to be of help to them? It might also be nice if you ask them. Serving someone without expecting anything in return is the ultimate form of service, and joy comes from a heart that serves!

I don’t want to be misleading by leading you to believe that by giving thanks your pain will magically go away. The source of your pain may still be there but as you walk forward in thankfulness, you will notice that you are able to take another step, and another, and then another until one day you are walking with a smile on your face. I’m sorry life is hard. I’m sorry you have to give thanks in the midst of tremendous pain, but please know, no pain is ever wasted as long as you use your pain to bring about a good purpose.


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WRITTEN BY Maria Bowersock