Panning for Gold: What to Do When Gratitude Is Hard

Gina Butz gratitude, trials 3 Comments

Panning for gold: finding ways to be grateful when life is hard

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

This is the month of the year when we are reminded to be thankful. Pinterest is cluttered with suggestions for ways to count our blessings. At work, someone has a thankfulness tree, and a sign inviting others to write on a leaf and add to it. Among the turkey and pilgrim decorations are plates and napkins and signs bearing the word, “Thanks.” But the fact is, sometimes, it’s hard to feel thankful.

Sometimes we have seasons when the blessings are hard to see. The job is stressful, and you wonder if it’s even where you belong. Your kids are struggling in school. The loneliness lingers, or your marriage feels old and empty. Depression is a cloud you can’t shake. The test is positive, or negative. Sometimes the hard is so overwhelming the thought of looking for the good feels beyond our reach.

At times like that, when we don’t feel grateful, what do we do?

We pan for gold.

Now I’ve never actually panned for gold, but I imagine that it is hard work. Time consuming. It requires great focus and a trained eye to look for the smallest bits of gold in the mud. All your energy goes into finding that precious metal. Those willing to look harder found more.

So when I’m in a season where it doesn’t feel like the gold nuggets are right there for the taking, I imagine myself as a gold miner (side note: I HATE the word nugget. Hate. It.). I take more time to look a little harder, sift my life around a little more, asking where I do see Him at work. I look for the smallest blessings. Sometimes I start with, “I am alive today.”

And then I thank Him for them. I thank Him for food, clothes, shelter, health and all that I take for granted every day. It’s good to start there.

Here’s the reality: there’s always gold.

It might only show up in little flakes and specks. But when we look, we see it is there in abundance. We might not experience the big nuggets of victory, but we can claim the gold dust of everyday grace.Twitter It’s breath in our lungs, feet to move us, hands to work, eyes to see. We see salvation, grace, life, and His love and presence. It’s all that does not leave us even in the darkest moments.

The more we pan for gold, the better we become at finding it. We see gold in a kind word, a safe drive, a quiet moment. It’s found in sunrises, fresh air, and every day we get to start again.

We are not asked to give thanks for every circumstance but in every circumstance. Whatever the season brings, there’s gold in them there hills. We can be grateful people in the midst of trial, heartache, pain. Seek out the evidence of goodness mixed in with the dirt of hardship. Search for the reminders that we are never forsaken, even when the road is rough. His blessings carry us. Pan for gold, friends. Our lives are rich.

Related posts:

Peace and Hope Amidst the Storm 

Why God Won’t Just Make It Easier


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Comments 3

  1. I love this! I, too, find that when I slow down and actually start to thank God for blessings, they seem to multiply. It is so easy to think the grass is greener is someone else’s backyard, but when I stop and look around, my eyes are opened and I see that I have a lot to be grateful for.

    Thanks for the reminder!

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