There is no escape from the troubles that come upon us in this life. As certain as the sun shines upon our face on a mild spring day, there will also be nightfall and storms bringing unfortunate circumstances which can trigger all kinds of troublesome thoughts and feelings we would gladly trade for those experienced during the nice sunny days.
Jesus said: “…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” John 16:33. This is one of my favorite scriptures in the bible because it is a clear reminder that there will be storms in life, but it is still possible to have peace in the middle of the storm.
In order to do this, there has to be an intentional effort to focus on that which is good in our circumstances. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” 1Thessalonians 5:18. We are prone to focus on our problems or unfortunate chain of events, but there is always something to be thankful for; something to keep us moving in the right direction.
I noticed an illustration of this in an episode that I watched of “The Rings of Power” from the “Lord of the Rings”. The movie emphasizes the importance and differences of the various races of people. Perhaps the least in power are the Harfoots who had few resources but always managed to be happy. In one scene, the Harfoots tragically lost nearly all of their food that they had just gathered, interrupting a great celebration; many of them were heartbroken because of this unfortunate event that added to their troubles. Most of them wanted to soak in their sorrows which would be expected, but their leader reminded them that their strength was in each other, not in their circumstances, and they had learned to keep walking towards their hope for a peaceful place to settle. They remained thankful for what was most important.
In Acceptance Commitment Therapy, there is the concept of accepting circumstances even when they are not as we would prefer, while reminding ourselves of what we do have control of, and what we can still be thankful for, even if it is just the breath that we breathe. Focusing on what we have that is good and giving thanks for it can open up new strength and inspiration to move on to better pastures where we may experience the spring sunshine again. Meanwhile, may we practice giving thanks in all situations. This is God’s Wisdom to us; may we receive it with thanks.