By Kevin Howell
Hope and gratitude are two things we can’t live without. Well, we can, but it leads to a pretty miserable existence. They’ve become indispensible in my life. Let’s face it, sometimes life is rough. Unemployed rough. Break-up rough. Divorce rough. Foreclosure rough. Death of a loved one rough. No matter what we’re facing, hope and gratitude help us through the circumstances. They don’t change the circumstances, but they change our perspective, helping us endure.
Hope gives us something to hold onto when we feel like giving up. It’s the belief that things will eventually get better. It’s the expectation that there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel, even though we don’t even see a glimmer of it yet. It’s holding onto the promise that “all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Though we can’t physically grasp it, hope is a mental picture of what we desire, and the belief that we will obtain it.
While hope looks ahead to when we are out of the turmoil, gratitude looks around in the midst of the mess. In the midst of the pain, frustration, loneliness, fear, disappointment, and lack, gratitude points at what we do have. It finds beauty in despair. It sees the blade of grass bursting through the snow-covered terrain. It takes joy in having the family finally together at the funeral. It sees the smile of the child recently diagnosed with autism. It appreciates the sunrise even when waking up alone.
I think God does the same thing. He looks around at a world far from what He intended it to be in Eden. Even though sin and death have been conquered through Jesus, His creation is still a mess. But in the midst of the rebellion, wickedness, selfishness, sickness, poverty and depravity, He sees you, and He sees me. And He’s grateful. He’s grateful that He made us. He’s grateful that He sacrificed for us. And He looks ahead, in hope, to when we’ll be perfect, again.
Every night, as I turn out the lights get under the covers at the end of the day, I put Jazz CD on repeat. No matter how my day went — whether it was good or bad, productive or wasteful, meaningful or stressful, depressing or uplifting — I look up at the ceiling and then around me, and I give God a nod and a smile. It’s my small way of acknowledging all that He’s given me. It’s how I keep things in perspective. It’s how I show my gratitude. And it’s how, no matter what I’m going through, I can lay my head down in peace.
Our troubles are not trivial. They can be quite painful and trying. But regardless of what we’re dealing with, we can look ahead in hope that it will get better. And we can look around in gratitude and see there is plenty to be thankful for.
Kevin is the founder and editor of Transparency magazine. He’s grateful for you checking out this site, and grateful for the opportunity to share his thoughts and life.