When Gratitude Is Hard

Gina Butz gratitude, trials 3 Comments

what to do when we don't feel grateful

photo by Artur Rutkowski

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. Your job is stressful, and you wonder if it’s even where you belong. Your kids are struggling in school. Your marriage feels old and empty. The loneliness lingers. Depression is a cloud you can’t shake. The test is positive. The test is 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 was hard work. It was time consuming. It required great focus and a trained eye to look for the smallest bits of gold they could find. They put all their energy into finding that precious metal. Those who were 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 have to 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 and clothes and shelter and health and all that I taken for granted every day. I start there.

And here’s the reality: there’s always gold. It might show up in little flakes and specks, but when we begin to look, we see that it is there in abundance. We might not be experiencing the big nuggets of victory, but we can claim the gold dust of everyday grace. It’s breath in our lungs and feet to move us and hands to work and eyes to see. It’s salvation and grace and life and His love and presence and all that which cannot be taken from 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. We see gold in sunrises and 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 and heartache and pain. We can choose to seek out the evidence of goodness mixed in with the dirt of hardship. We can 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.


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Why God Won’t Just Make It Easier

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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