Practicing Gratitude in Stressful Times

Gratitude JournalThe current Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a variety of unpleasant emotions in many of us, ranging from anxiety, fear, sadness, depression, hopelessness, despair and anger.

Balancing work obligations, raising children, finding time for household duties and other demands of modern living are taking an emotional toll on family members. It is enough to push anyone over the edge and certainly can contribute to more conflict in our work and personal relationships.

We need to ask ourselves how should we respond to these emotions and the conflict that may be triggered in our relationships.

Are we turning to God daily? If so, are most of our prayers focusing on asking God to put an end to this madness? Or are we also giving God thanks during the pandemic?

It may sound crazy to give God gratitude for a pandemic that has turned our lives upside down, but as Christians we are called to do just that.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3.

The word of God found both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament tells us that God wants us to give thanks and to find gratitude in all circumstances.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Psalm 136:1-9
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
To him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
Who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
Who made the great lights-
His love endures forever.
The sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

God is good and he is worthy of our thanks in all things.

Psalm 136 repeats the words His love endures forever after every sentence, a very effective literary tool used by the Psalmist to remind of us of God’s everlasting love for His children as seen in all that he created and sacrificed for us.

God is worthy of our gratitude and praise. We know that we are supposed to offer our gratitude and thanks to God in all circumstances. How do we find ways to do this especially during difficult circumstances?

Here are a few examples:

Start each morning being still in a quiet space and giving God thanks in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Read Psalm 136 (or another Psalm of praise); then write your own Psalm of praise inserting all of the wonderful blessings God has provided you and describe your gratitude. Challenge your Christian friends to join you in this and then share your psalms with each other. Christian fellowship in times of trouble is a gift from God and we praise Him for this gift.

Sing your praise to God. Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord! Let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. Psalm 95:1-2.

Take a gratitude walk (or sit) in nature. When we walk or sit somewhere close to or surrounded by nature, it is easy to be reminded of what a great Creator our Heavenly Father is and to be assured that if he created the birds, the flowers, the streams, the trees, he truly loves his children since he created us in his image. We give thanks for the wonder of His creation. Genesis 1:6-7.

Start a gratitude journal or, if a journal is overwhelming, a gratitude notecard, daily social media post or find a gratitude friend (ask a friend to join you in a regular gratitude walk, talk or prayer).

With a daily focus on God and what we are grateful for in our lives, past and present, we shift our thinking from worldly things to our comfort and peace in the message of the gospel. We know our ultimate gift is kept in heaven for us. We are reassured of this in 1 Peter 1:4-6, In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Help your child understand what gratitude is and why it is important to lift our thanks to God in all of our circumstances. Do one of these activities together or create a new one.

We do a “highs and lows of the week” at our Church with the young people. This can be the start of a discussion of why we give thanks for both our highs and our lows.

If you are struggling in a relationship, seek out gratitude in one of the above ways or some of other way. When our focus is gratitude, grace often follows.

While Christians will certainly suffer the same physical, emotional, relationship and financial issues that non-Christians encounter, we have the word of God and we have God’s assurance that he is constant. His word and His Covenant do not change even when our circumstances do. When Christians weather a storm, we do not walk alone. God loves us in all circumstances and His love endures forever.