What do you do when you hit a “pothole” at work? You know—the struggles and disappointments, the sudden uncertainty that arises from unexpected circumstances, the conflict you face with coworkers, the tough seasons when nothing seems to be going right. Has anyone besides me experienced being overwhelmed by the hard things to the point where it becomes difficult to think, let alone take the next step? How can we move through those difficult times with the grace and peace Jesus promises us?
I realize that gratefulness is NOT top of mind when we’re going through a tough situation. Yet gratitude is exactly what we need to train our minds and hearts to lean toward in all seasons, especially the hard ones.
One of the hardest seasons of my life occurred in 2001. I had gone through several hard things over a period of four years—divorce that left me as a single mom, job loss, financial hardships, betrayal. I went from having a family, a good job, and a beautiful home with everything I needed to being jobless, having to sell most of what I had, uproot myself and become fully dependent on God and others for support. It was the start of a period of significant transformation that lasted several years as I moved from one job to another, one apartment to another, and all the while trying to find my footing again. Yet those experiences led me to blessings beyond what I could have imagined!
Through it all, I looked for the blessings and found there were many things to be grateful for: God’s provision of friends and family to support me; God’s provision of work, even if I didn’t understand why I was there at the time; and having my eyes opened to God’s great love and desire for a relationship with me. Through that time, God built my faith, He humbled me (never a fun process), and He helped me put material things in a healthier perspective. Today, I have no doubt that ALL I have comes from the Lord! And I am more consistently able to find something to be grateful for through even the most difficult circumstances.
This month, WiM is focusing on GRATITUDE. God calls us to be grateful, and when we are, it changes our hearts and our thinking so we are better able to walk through difficulties with faith. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Our antidote for anxiety and stress is found in Philippians 4:4-7, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It's from this place of peace that we can experience God’s loving presence, hear the promptings of His Holy Spirit, find hope to move forward, serve others, and bring God glory in the midst of our difficulties.
Here are just a few practical ways that can help us focus on being grateful in all times:
See how God is working (Philippians 2:12-13). What is God teaching you through your circumstances? What new doors is God directing you to walk through? Who has God put in your path?
Remember how God has worked before (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). What did you learn through past difficulties? How did you grow? Who is going through something similar and could use your encouragement?
Acknowledge someone who has served you (Philippians 1:3). We all have people who have been there to listen, who have helped us make connections, or provided insight or resources. Let them know how much you appreciate them with a handwritten note or message.
Look for ways to serve others (Galatians 5:13). Serving someone in need helps us become more aware of our blessings. It not only helps us put things in perspective, but it is also good for our souls. Making a difference for someone else is uplifting and naturally fills our hearts with gratitude for the opportunity.
This month, no matter what you may be facing, let’s encourage one another to find reasons to be thankful and express our gratitude in ways that are practical and impactful for others. Remember that we are Christ’s ambassadors in our workplaces and wherever we encounter other people (2 Corinthians 5:20). Let’s be the salt and light Jesus calls us to be through an attitude of gratitude so others can be drawn to His great love (Matthew 5:16).