Last night I was reading Prevention magazine.
Because I am secretly a senior citizen.
I love that magazine.
It had a whole article on being grateful for the difficulties of life.
The hard places. The job losses. The struggles. The disappointments.
Because they offer an opportunity for change, for overcoming, for a shift in worldview.
A Pulitzer prize winning author who had been diagnosed with melanoma took
the diagnosis as a sign to pour his life into helping others with melanoma by organizing
runs for research.
He used the countless rejections he got as an author to fuel his creativity.
He decided that his hours being cutback to part time was an opportunity for him to invest
more time in other pursuits.
I read that and thought, "Huh."
Because mostly, I am thankful for the things in my life that are good, easy and uplifting.
The hard things? Not so much.
But he says that the struggles are like the backdrop or the contrast in a painting,
that show off the good in our lives, that give us a point of reference to point and say,
"This time was incredibly difficult. But I made it through. I am alive.
And look what I learned from that. And look at the beauty that can still be found in my life."
It's not that he is thankful for the pain but he is grateful for the growth the pain produced.
It almost sounds like he has been reading the Bible.
James says, "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an
opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a
chance to grow." (James 1:2-3)
We may not welcome the troubles (I know I don't!) but we can welcome what Jesus can do
in us in the troubles.
So here is my hard gratitude life list:
1. I am grateful for the experience of having a broken heart...
because it showed me how amazing real love is.
2. I am grateful for the tons of rejections that I got for my fiction children's books....
they started me on the path of writing adult non-fiction.
3. I am grateful the downward spiral I fell into when I walked away from Jesus in my college years,
it sent me running back into the grace filled arms of Jesus.
4. I am grateful for my glasses...I hate wearing them...but I love love love that I can see!
5. I am grateful for the financial struggle of church planting because it shows me again and again
that only Jesus can supply our needs.
6. I am grateful for the times when I have been lonely because I truly understand
the great gift of having a good friend.
7. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be with my friend Shelly in her last days,
it revealed to me the fragility of life and the joy of having more days to live.
I live differently now because of her.
I am sure I will think of more hard things to be grateful for as the days go by.
I tried to think of a reason to be grateful for cellulite...but I couldn't come up with one.
I'm leaving that one off of the list.
But I know this...I can't make it through the hard things in this life
without the rock solidness of Jesus and the love of the people He has given me.
And if I am honest, those are the two things I am most grateful for.