30 days of gratitude --
I was reading some gratitude challenges on another web site. On that site, one day's challenge was to write a short message of thanks for the "negative" things in your life.
I wonder if the ability to be thankful for the "negative" things in your life might not be the most mature stage of gratitude. I am not sure what the author of this series on gratitude means by the word negative. I assume that he or she means something that is or was difficult, a cause of grief or hardship, a limitation of some kind, an emotional or physical wound, or something of the like.
When I meditate on things for which I am grateful, I find it easiest to begin with those things that are obviously positive. I might even move on to a few negative things from the past, if I can look back and see that those things definitely worked for good.
What about the things -- past or present -- that are both negative and beyond my current level of understanding? How quick am I to be thankful for them? Or, at least, how quick am I to be thankful that God is working for good in those things, even if the things themselves might not be good.
The most faithful people I know are able to go through bewildering and seemingly negative things with a thankful attitude. In their suffering, they find things around them for which to be grateful. If they are ill, they are thankful for people who stand by them in their pain, for deeper intimacy with God learned during sleepless nights, and for medical advancements which make them more comfortable. If they lose their home to a weather catastrophe, they are grateful for the people who take them in and for the people who work hard to restore their original dwelling place. People who think in this way have their moments of struggle, but, all in all, they possess great peace.
I, on the other hand, let my gratitude unravel this week when pummeled by several smaller trials. These were "negative" things for which I should have been most grateful! They were actually an answer to prayer. I had prayed to see some things in my character that need to change, and the trials revealed them to me. So, while I viewed them in the moment as negatives, they were actually positives that can bless my life and, through changes in me, the lives of my family members.
Isn't that an extraordinary thing? Things which we view as negative may actually be positive tools that God uses in our lives to bless us. I'm so grateful.