Finding Gratitude When Your Heart is Broken
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
This verse clearly tells us that God knows the plans for our lives. But it can be hard to understand why He allows the hard things in our lives to happen.
An Uncertain Future
We were a single income family with eight children. One day my husband told me that unless he was able to get the help he needed, he could no longer work.
We had sought help for him for years with no significant or lasting improvement. It was a dark, ugly time. We nearly lost our marriage and everything we held dear. I also realized I had been living with a great deal of denial. My happy smile hid a marriage and life that were breaking apart.
While I faced the heartache of a very sick husband and an uncertain future, I wondered where did “joy in the Lord” fit in? Especially when dealing with a broken heart?
As I began to face the broken parts of my life and marriage, I worried I would drown in a sea of depression. But through time and Christian therapy, I learned that my circumstances didn’t define or limit God.
I learned that we don’t give thanks because life is good; we give thanks because God is good.
The Bible says, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever!” 1 Chronicles 16:34(ESV)
Even in a sea of hard, the Lord showed me that we can hold onto Him, because He is good. His love for us never ends.
It was in the “Help, I’m Drowning” video series from Sally Clarkson where I was encouraged to make a list of things that bring me joy. How surprised I was to find that merely writing and reflecting on things that bring me joy – brought me joy!
Through the past couple of years, I’ve learned that joy doesn’t diminish sorrow; it doesn’t miraculously heal, but it does give strength.
The Promise of Hope
I believe joy and hope go hand in hand. A friend once told me, “It is never wrong to hope in God.” As we hope in God and an in eternity with Him where there is no pain, no suffering, and no death, we can have joy not in denial of our heartaches but even in them.
We can cry out, as the Psalmist David did, bringing our deepest hurts to our Father God. We can find joy even in our sorrow, as we turn our eyes to our ever-loving Heavenly Father whose love knows no limits.
I haven’t understood many of the things the Lord has allowed into my life and my family. But I made a conscious choice to believe that God is good, even when all my flesh told me this could not be true.
I’m reading Sarah Clarkson’s book, “This Beautiful Truth.” In it, she proposes that either God is good and there is beauty and goodness waiting for us in eternity, or He isn’t good and there isn’t a perfect eternity waiting for His followers.
It’s only in the character of God and the promise of eternity that we can find hope and joy in some of life’s toughest struggles.
Joy in the morning
I’ve found that joy does come in the morning – not necessary literally, but in the day after day of trusting and walking towards God. For me part of the healing involved medication and therapy. Through this committed process, I did, once again, find joy.
As I’ve turned towards God, instead of away from Him, I have found much to be grateful for.
He has truly carried me when I no longer had the strength to walk alone. As I give thanks for all the little things that are so easily missed or overlooked, I find joy returning to my soul. Giving thanks to the Giver of all good gifts is for our sake, not His.
The Bible tells us that if we seek the Lord with all our hearts that we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Let’s pray that God would give us: eyes to see His love and goodness, faith to believe when times are hard, and through healing, joy that He is an ever faithful and loving Father.
I have learned to hold sorrow in one hand and joy in the other– not in spite of the struggle but sometimes because of it.
Fight for joy, my friends!