I’ve realized two disturbing things about my “Gratitude Quotient” recently: (1) I’m not nearly as grateful as I should be for how God has blessed me; (2) Many of the things I’m now MOST grateful for are past events I wasn’t grateful for at all when they were taking place.
I call this second point “gratitude in retrospect.”
Perhaps you can relate. Have you gone through difficult times when it was extremely difficult to give thanks? But now, as you look back, you see that God was at work through it all. Gratitude (finally!) rises in your heart as you see how the painful events have been beautifully woven into the fabric of your life.
- Maybe you had a relationship breakup that broke your heart…but it paved the way for God to provide someone much better in your life.
- Maybe you faced a severe trial in your health…but it caused you to make lifestyle changes in your diet and exercise—and now you’re feeling better than ever.
- Maybe you lost a job you thought you’d have until retirement…but God opened (or will open) a new door that’s a much better fit for your gifts and passions.
- Maybe you’ve experienced a financial meltdown, such as foreclosure or bankruptcy…but you learned vital lessons that finally put you on the path of prosperity.
These are just a few examples of how “gratitude in retrospect” can occur. I first noticed this in my life a few years ago, when a friend suggested that I write a book about church splits. “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” was my initial thought. “Even though I’m an expert on church splits, who would ever be interested in a book about that?”
But my tech-savvy friend pointed out that 8,000 people every month do a Google search on the subject of church splits. “Wow. There must be a lot of people dealing with this,” I concluded.
As a result of that conversation, I wrote The Complete Guide to Church Splits: Prevention, Survival, and Recovery.
But this event sparked something much bigger than just a new book project: I discovered that God had been a lot more faithful than I had given Him credit for. And I became much more grateful for the difficult things I’ve experienced in life—even though my gratitude was mostly in retrospect.
I’m still troubled by my struggle to be grateful at the same time as my trials are occurring. The Bible instructs us to give thanks “IN everything,” not just AFTER everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I’m also sad that although I’ve given lip service to Romans 8:28 for decades, God’s amazing promise there is still not rooted as deeply in my life as it should be. Paul had gone through incredible trials (2 Corinthians 11:22-28), yet he said, “We KNOW that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
As the truth of Romans 8:28 becomes more a part of my life, I hope to become more grateful all the time—not just in retrospect. I want to become increasingly aware that God is always working to “connect the dots” in my life, creating a masterpiece I could never have imagined during my times of adversity.
So I pray you will join me in being grateful TODAY—no matter what the day brings…no matter what you may be going through. You may not understand it all today, but the Lord is working out His wonderful plan nevertheless.