How can I be grateful after living in thirty years of abuse in three different marriages? How can I forgive and not be bitter? How can I find any good out of all of my pain? I have been asked these questions quite often as an overcomer of domestic abuse.
How to be Gratefulness
My answer is always the same. I choose to be grateful for the challenges in my past because they have fostered a deep personal relationship with Jesus and grown my faith. My choice to be grateful doesn’t excuse the abusive I endured. My choice to be grateful empowers me to trust Jesus and work with him to learn to be his disciple instead of letting the circumstance and pain destroy me.
The only source of supernatural strength to choose to be grateful for what you learn through challenges comes from Jesus Christ living in you. Just as love is a choice, being grateful is a choice. We must choose to look beyond what we see, feel, and understand as we face our challenges. We must trust that God’s plan for us is good. And that sometimes we have to learn and grow through our challenges to get to the good.
As we learn to walk as a toddler, we fall down, we hurt ourselves, we have fear and doubts. But our parents encourage us and allow us to learn from our challenges so that one day we will not only walk, but we will run! This is the picture of how we grow our gratefulness muscle. The more we use it, the stronger it becomes, and the easier it is to see what we have learned and how faithful God is in our lives.
Loving Gratefulness and Bitterness or Unforgiveness Can’t Occupy the Same Space
We can’t stop the challenges or trials we face on this broken earth, whether we are disciples of Jesus or we choose to do life without him. The question is, will you choose to have his true love in your life guiding you, strengthening you, and empowering you to have a grateful heart? Or will you choose to let bitterness and unforgiveness overshadow Christ’s, true love?
Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead, be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love. (Eph. 4:31-32 TPT)
When you choose to live in unforgiveness, you are feeding its arm of bitterness. You are creating separation from Jesus in your heart, mind, and spirit. You can’t choose to live in unforgiveness and bitterness and Christ’s true love and gratefulness at the same time. This is a hard fact to accept, but God created us with the power to choose. Will you choose to have Christ as your master or your emotions of unforgiveness and bitterness?
What God Says About Gratefulness
When I faced the abusive, painful realities in my life, the only way I found healing, strength, understanding, and revelation was by studying and praying the word of God. The Holy Spirit living in all believers will guide, teach, and correct us when we let him. These roles of the Holy Spirit help us grow closer to Jesus and to help us mature our faith.
I want to share these three verses with you that brought me healing, comfort, and hope for my future in some really painful times. I encourage you to study these verses and the ones surrounding them in context. I also challenge you to look for more scriptures with the help of the Holy Spirit.
- Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes. 5:16-18, NIV)
- I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. (Psa. 9:1, NIV)
- And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17, NIV)
Thrive in Christ’s True Love by Staying Grateful
While living in a broken world in our imperfect human condition, we can’t stop, control, or choose many, if any, challenges we face. However, we can choose to learn to live as disciples of Christ and mighty warriors of God, or we can do life on our own and live in unforgiveness, bitterness, and separation from Christ. I know from my life that when you choose to trust Jesus and live in a grateful heart, he will show you how to use your lessons and his revelations to help others. He will turn all the messes in your life into his masterpiece! His transformation of our minds, hearts, and lives is every reason to be grateful!
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