My Personal Experience with Thankfulness in Times of Crisis
By Marina Sordi Bryant.*
As Thanksgiving approaches, I've been spending some days thinking and wondering how much having a grateful heart changed my way of seeing situations this year.
Being honest, it hasn't been an easy year, but I want to invite you to join me in this journey to find grace and gratitude.
Being born and raised in South America, Thanksgiving was the kind of holiday I've only seen in movies. It wasn't a holiday or even a tradition in my country, so as I watched the movies and saw the banquets (always wanted to try the turkey with cranberry sauce), family gatherings and heard them going around the table saying what each one was grateful for, I thought of the beauty of it.
Thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart, a decision you have to make consciously. A grateful heart reminds us that ultimately God is our Provider, that all blessings and gifts are graciously given to us by His hand.
Rewinding my life to pre-COVID, I was working remotely from my home country - as a full time missionary who had recently came back from the field and was in the process of debriefing and praying where I should go next, when I received an email from a friend sending me tickets to go visit them in the US.
When we decide to focus on the bad things, or on the things that are not going so well, we are choosing the wrong perspective, and losing the opportunity to have a grateful heart. God is in control - ALWAYS.
I will go fast over this because the details are many… But during that trip I met my husband. Between my return to my home country until I saw him again, there was COVID. We decided to go ahead with a wedding because COVID had no foreseen end date, so for that to happen we had to brave two different locations, every week not knowing how many people we could invite (sometimes the state allowed 10 people to meet, sometimes 25, at the end it had allowed the churches to have 50 gathering with social distancing), my family was not able to come because the borders were closed due to the virus (they were bringing my dress and shoes, my mom was going to make the sweets for the wedding). So there I was, 40 days before the wedding with no wedding dress, no shoes, no family, my dad was not going to walk me down the aisle, we changed wedding locations, we had to pay for my paperwork in the country so we didn't have enough money to decorate the church for the ceremony, we had to cut our guest list, and the list went on and on and on...
I could focus on the things that were going wrong - which were big in my mind at that time, or I could be thankful for everyone who was playing a role in my life, to whom I'm unable to pay back: love, friendship, lots of support, making my wedding happen from scratch, and prayers. Lots of them. How can we repay people who pray for us and are there for us when we don't feel we can make it another day?
Gratitude and the right perspective protect our hope and build the joy back into our spirits.
When we decide to focus on the bad things, or on the things that are not going so well, we are choosing the wrong perspective, and losing the opportunity to have a grateful heart. God is in control - ALWAYS. And my experience showed me, time after time, that trusting Him and His sovereignty over chaos was superior to trusting myself and my abilities. And when we trust Him and are grateful for even the smallest things in our lives, we see our minds and hearts changing.
Gratitude and the right perspective protect our hope and build the joy back into our spirits. There's nothing that compares to knowing that we are loved by the creator of the Universe, and He carries us through.
Gratitude is a beautiful thing that needs to be put into practice every day. Sometimes we have to dig in and hold onto thankfulness with all what we have. But it is worth it. Thanksgiving is a way of communicating gratitude to God, an act of worship that reinforces a relationship with God.
Keep your gratitude alive, you will harvest great things.
Marina Sordi Bryant is the WNI Strategic Development Coordinator