Gratitude in Adversity
Peggy K. Mack
July 13, 2013
My thoughts about gratitude in adversity follow my recent horrible fall caused by a flip flop, a corner of a dining room carpet, arms filled with a watermelon, a collision with a fruit wood buffet and my own stupidity. In the days that followed, I often stared at my damage in the mirror; a large goose egg above my eyebrows, a swollen nose and eye lids and two black eyes which continued to get blacker day by day. Yesterday, the fourth day following my fall, I woke with a sense of deep gratitude that I had not needed stitches. I had not broken my nose nor knocked my front teeth out. I was dealing with some painful bruises on my arm and hip and face, but other than looking rather ghoulish, I was fine. It could have been so much worse. And in my adversity of knowing I'd be freakish looking in public for the next two weeks, I was fine.
I remembered an old saying from my days when I looked for ways to inspire my challenged high school students. I discovered a saying that said something to the effect of, " you must value moments of adversity or loss because it is in those moments there is an opportunity to learn, to improve, to grow as a person." Winning teaches us little and serves to fill us with joy and pride and encouragement to keep going. But losing or adversity teaches us how strong we are in times of trouble, it teaches us to evaluate what has happened and how we can avoid it in the future. It teaches us to laugh in the toughest of times for there is joy to be found and laughter is a healer of the heart and spirit.
There is a purpose in loss or adversity. It is something we all face from small day to day experiences to once in a lifetime tragedies. We all face adversity in our lives.
I realized this morning that facing adversity is also a walk in faith in our personal experience with Christ. When we first feel that moment when Christ opens the door and we hear Him calling our name, we are loving children of God but our faith is immature.
In our subsequent walks with Him, we face life's challenges. Ah! but now, we face them with faith and in faith. Our reactions are different and our chances to grow in the faith as maturing Christians call us to see our daily lives through his eyes as a believer. We will surely be challenged. We will fall and struggle to get up. We will lose and win. We will feel our hearts break and we will feel traumas and tragedies. Those adversities are part of living here on Earth. Now, we live in faith.
One of the maturing steps, I believe, is finding a way to be grateful in the midst of adversity. You have seen interviews with people who have experienced a tornado having winds of 300mph. Their house now lies on the ground, no more than match sticks and trash. The words they utter tell so much about who the person is and not what they have been through in the storm. Often you hear them say, I can rebuild. My family is safe and that is all that matters. In the adversity, you hear gratitude. They may not even know it but they are witnesses to God's ability to lift us up so we can rebuild our lives.
My dear lifelong friend is in a battle with breast cancer. Her daughter has stage 4 cancer and the reaction to the chemo has taken her daughter's energy and her hopes for recovery. Her other amazing daughters have stepped up to do whatever is needed as part of the fortress of support. In the midst of their concerns, they are filled with gratitude for medical staff, prayers and support from family and friends and are filled with positive hope and concern. What an inspiration...what a family! They have lived an active life of faith. They are as worried and concerned as anyone would be facing cancer and the side effects of chemotherapy, but they face it in faith and there lies the huge difference. They believe God will sustain them. He will lift them up and He will do all he can to heal her of this life threatening illness.
I am so humble this morning in being able to see that I have reached the level of maturity in my walk with Christ that gives me the vision to experience gratitude in adversity. I have been blessed so many times with experiencing for myself the walk with Christ which leads me out of life's storms, away from fear and sorrow and back into a place of comfort, peace and joy.
New International Version (NIV)
I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be
content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need,
and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being
content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether
living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives
Dear Heavenly Father,
Use me to reach out to those who are, today, facing a painful heartache or trauma or adversity. Use me as I go about my day to find the kind words or actions needed to bring a blessing when there are those who are so in need of hope and love. You surrounded me in my time of need with endless friends and their acts of kindness. Now, as the popular saying is reflected in my prayer, "Help me, now, to 'Pay it forward."
In Jesus' Holy Name,