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Embracing Gratitude In A Difficult Year

The holiday season can be challenging, especially when life has thrown difficult circumstances your way. It may feel like a complicated task to declare gratitude and joy in the face of adversity as a Christian. However, this message encourages finding gratitude in the strength and resilience gained from past hardships and the presence of a loving God who can heal and guide, even in difficult times, offering a new perspective on joy and thankfulness.

This time of the year is a little weird, isn’t it? We run at a rapid pace all year long, dealing with whatever life has thrown our way, and then, for the last two months, we’re challenged to be thankful and joyful. 

Some years, that’s an easier ask than others. 

Maybe this was the year . . .
Someone close to you died.
A job you love ended.
Ministry left some unexpected wounds.
You are expected to do so much more with so much less.
Your child went through something that affected your whole family.
Your marriage ended.

And as a Christian, it feels like you are supposed to declare gratitude and joy because it’s what we do, right?

Count it all joy. 

That’s some complicated math.

But while your circumstances may not have changed,
While your wounds are still healing,
While your home life may still be in chaos,
You are still here.

You are still showing up for life.
You are still hoping that something will change.
You are still believing God can do something, even when it looks like God’s not doing anything.

You know why? Because this isn’t the first time you’ve done something hard. This isn’t the first time you’ve faced a situation where your heart was broken or your dream was shattered. 

You’ve been here before.
You went through it. Yeah, you may have a few scars and a few triggers.
You may have some old residue. But you came out on the other side. 

You’re smarter.
You’re more compassionate for others who go through something similar.
You’re stronger.
You broke, but in the mending, something happened. You realize you can get through hard things. 

Not by your own cleverness or strength but with the God who is and was close to your broken heart. The God who never left. The God who provided what you needed when you needed it, even if it didn’t look like what you thought it should. 

And if those hard things in the past left you a little messed up, you can let God heal them. 

You can say, “God, this is holding me back from being who You know I can be. Lead me to places where You can heal me.”

Maybe it’s counseling or therapy.
Maybe it’s a close community of friends.
Maybe it’s the leading of the Holy Spirit.
More than likely, it will be all of the above. 

This year may have taken a lot of things from you, but you have so many things to be grateful for. 

You can be grateful for . . .
A God who loves your child even more than you do.
A God who does more with less than you ever dreamed.
A God who doesn’t leave you even when others do.

Count it all joy. Maybe this is new math.
Maybe this is a new way to arrive at the answers.
And maybe by counting the ways God has worked in the past, we can be grateful for the unseen things God is doing in the present.

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