How Gratitude Can Help In the Midst of Challenging Times

Gratitude overflows from my life when things are going my way but not so much when I find myself in the midst of hard times. Join me in our ABC’s of gratitude challenge to discover gratitude in hard times.

Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude and he says in this article,

Not only will a grateful attitude help—it is essential. In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times.”

Here’s the thing we need to remind ourselves of in the midst of challenging times that feeling grateful and being grateful are two different things. We can’t will our emotions to feel grateful but we can choose to be grateful in the midst of challenging situations.

As children of God, we have our Heavenly Father who is almighty, gracious, redeemer, promise-keeper, lover of our souls. You have God’s promises to remind you to choose gratitude! Reminding yourself that our God is bigger than any problem you face is essential in the gaining a different perspective in the midst of challenging times.

One of the things author Sissy Goff says in her book “Worry Free Girls” is that in the midst of challenging times your anxiety, worry, fear distorts how you view your situation. Usually what worry does is make your problem bigger and you become smaller.

Hard times bring out stress, worry, and fear. When we focus on our stress, worry and fear our problems get bigger and our God becomes smaller. We become helpless and feel overwhelmed.

Here’s the thing our feelings don’t change who God is.
Our situation doesn’t change who God is.
God is the same yesterday, today and forevermore! The grass withers and the flowers fade but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8.

So we can boldly stand on His promises and choose to reframe our circumstances through the lens of His truth. We can ask the Holy Spirit to help us reframe our situation so we can see Him at work. That’s easier said than done but we can start with being thankful. Remember I didn’t say feeling thankful but being thankful. There’s a difference in “feeling grateful” and choosing to “be grateful”.

We all know grumbling spreads like a wildfire we’ve seen it happen in our hearts, homes and social media as we all adjust to the many changes going on in our life at this time. Gratitude puts out that fire.

I’m not talking about being fake and singing and smiling our way through every situation like Maria Von Trapp in Sound of Music and ignoring the pain and hurt. What I’m saying is choose to practice gratitude in the midst of challenging times and allow God to transform your heart through it.

He transforms our hearts as He transforms our minds. So preach to yourself! Remind yourself of the truth–God works ALL things for the good. That’s how we start reframing our thoughts!

Gratitude in Hard Times

In Dr. Emmons’s article, he uses a term that reminds me of God’s redemptive work. He calls this process of reframing our thoughts a “redemptive twist” but as believers in Christ we call it “God’s redemptive twist”.

He says, “I was also struck by the redemptive twist that occurred in nearly half of these narratives: out of something bad (suffering, adversity, affliction) came something good (new life or new opportunities) for which the person felt profoundly grateful.

Do you hear it? God’s word!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Friends, all things are not good. We know that and God knows that but what God is asking us to do is to see His redemptive work in the midst of ALL things and trust that He is a good Father. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy with his lies and distorted truths.

I love how “God’s redemptive twist” is proven through a secular study performed by Eastern Washington University. They had 3 groups of people who were asked to recall an unpleasant memory (loss, betrayal, victimization). The first 2 groups freely wrote about their memory the 3rd group was asked to focus on the positive aspects of their difficult experience and discover what about it might make them now feel grateful. The outcomes of the research were as follows: “Results showed that they demonstrated more closure and less unpleasant emotional impact than participants who just wrote about the experience without being prompted to see ways it might be redeemed with gratitude… Thinking gratefully, this study showed, can help heal troubling memories and in a sense redeem them.” ~R. Emmons

How do we think gratefully? Hold onto God’s truth in the midst of challenging times and look for His redemptive work and that allows us to give birth to gratitude in the midst of painful labor pains. That’s how gratitude overflows.

Lean into Gratitude

Let’s lean into gratitude! I want to be the kind of person that finds beauty and blessings in the mundane tasks of life, challenges, and changes. I don’t want to be swayed by my emotions with every passing situation or news update.

Friends as children of God, we have Jesus! We have hope! We have the Spirit of God working in and through us helping us fight these lies and worry every day, every hour and sometimes every minute.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

ABC’s of Gratitude Challenge

Join me in this 26 Days of Gratitude Challenge using words or pictures! Let’s make gratitude contagious!

Gratitude always gives birth to joy! Let’s be gratitude seekers together and find beauty and blessings in everyday moments.

❤️Follow along each day on your own using my cute ABC’s printable(Free). Print one out for each person in your family. Make it a writing assignment for your kids or just place it on the table at dinner time and go around sharing what you’re grateful for today.
Example: A- I’m thankful for answered prayer, apples, or Aunt Yaya! Each day you’ll go through one letter of the alphabet and think about something you can be grateful for that starts with an A.
❤️Then share it on social media and tell us what you’re grateful for words or a picture.
❤️Use the #Leanintogratitude. So we can see the love spread.

Your Free ABC’s of Gratitude printable click here: ABC’s gratitude final

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  1. I love the distinction between “feeling” grateful and “being” grateful.
    I’m excited to use this printable. What a fun way to put a fresh spin on gratitude journaling. Thank you for this idea!