The most difficult thing in life is to be thankful in times of trouble. When I took my problems to my father, the late, great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, he said, “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” To call this a tremendous response to dealing with trouble would be an understatement.
My father believed the fires of suffering were the greatest teaching moments in our lives. In fact, when someone would call him and ask him to pray for them he’d reply, “I’m going to pray for you and I’m going to pray your problem gets worse!”
Why would he pray anyone out of a situation they’d been placed in by God to make them a stronger person? He joked that he was the only motivator who repeatedly got notes from people saying, “Charlie, please stop praying for me, I’ve had all the help I can take!!”
Do we really believe that trials come into our lives for a reason? If we do, then we can always find a way through them. One of my all-time favorite books is Viktor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning
. Frankl, a Jewish neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor said, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how.’” Frankl found that in the depths of depravity and horror his reason for living was to endure suffering. It’s what got him through to the other side unlike so many of his friends and countrymen.
True thankfulness transcends circumstances. Viktor Frankl’s message inspires us to discover the importance of finding meaning in all forms of existence, even the most brutal ones. True thankfulness is about what’s going on inside, not what’s happening outside. Thankfulness is so tremendous because it takes our focus off of ourselves. It’s the realization of an influence of someone or something other than you. And that is the mark of a truly tremendous life. So next time you’re suffering and you think you need therapy, try “thank therapy”: it’s a medical fact that you cannot be thankful and depressed at the same time. And always remember, it doesn’t matter if the glass is half empty or half full, be thankful you have a glass and there’s something in it.
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving filled with gratitude for all things, be they tumultuous or tremendous!