Why I Choose Gratitude In The Midst Of Worry
The last two years have been more stressful than I could have ever imagined. I have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, gotten engaged, planned a wedding, undergone eye surgery and moved house six times. I was forced to change my wedding plans last minute, and a beloved family member died suddenly while I was flying internationally on Christmas Eve. Some might expect me to look at these past two years as the worst ones of my life.
In spite of the overwhelming stress, sadness, pain and worry I’ve felt in the midst of these circumstances, I am grateful for the strength that I have developed from these hardships.
I have encountered God in ways I never could have expected.
I appreciate my family more than ever before. My then-fiancé (now husband) and I grew so much as we learned how to trust God together and depend on Him for our every need.
There are so many times that I’m tempted to hold onto my pain, to claim entitlement or to dwell in bitterness. Instead, I look back at God’s faithfulness and choose to be thankful that He never left my side in the valley. And now that I’m on the other side, I feel empowered to face whatever lies ahead because I know that it is totally worthwhile.
I know that, as hard as these past years have been, they are not the worst that life has to offer. I know that there are plenty of ups and downs ahead of me, and I also realise that there are people reading this who have undergone things that I could never understand.
I am not dismissing the human tendency to worry— it’s a powerful thing. It’s a bit like an addiction; you do it to cover up what you’re feeling, but it leaves you feeling worse, out of control and dependent on something that can’t even change your situation.
Maybe you’re like me, tempted to sneak in a little worry here, a little there, somehow confident of your own ability to fix things. I don’t know about you, but never once have I felt better after worrying.
Anxiety is cumulative; things snowball, worries pile on, and somehow you end up more stressed than when you started.
Even with all these difficult things happening in my life, I have heard God speaking to me. He has been emphasizing the concept of thankfulness in the midst of crazy circumstances. Choosing to thank and praise Him for His goodness is the direct opposite of worrying.
To me, Philippians 4:6 really speaks to this mind shift. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
This is hard to do in the best of times, so it can feel completely impossible in the midst of dark times. Therefore, I have a few ideas to empower you as you begin choosing gratitude.
I suggest making a “Blessings Jar” where you write down things that you’re thankful for and stick them in the jar as a way to remember God’s faithfulness. If writing helps you process things, try journaling and make an effort to write down more positive things than negative. Love music? Then experiment with songwriting, focusing on thanking and praising the Lord. Lastly, sometimes you just need a fresh perspective. Surround yourself with good, caring friends, and meet up with them regularly. If you can’t see the good in your own life, ask them to point it out to you.
Being grateful and thanking God for the hard times, the bad diagnoses, the lost job or the broken-down car can really shift the spiritual atmosphere of your life. I have lost so many precious moments in my life because of worry. Don’t let it steal your joy, instead choose gratitude and trust that God has the best in store for you.