How to Turn Pain into Gratitude
By: Alisha Headley

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

My older brother passed away one week before my 30th birthday. He passed away from a rare form of cancer that he battled for a short six months before he was gone. He was young and had so much life ahead of him. He had married his high school sweetheart and had two healthy boys.

One of the many things I admired about him during his battle with cancer is he somehow found gratitude in the pain. And I’m not just talking about physical pain from the cancer eating away at his body. But also, the pain he was experiencing when he was at the point where he knew he was going to die. The pain of having to say goodbye to his loves ones as well as goodbye to all his future dreams and life he was building. But somehow, he was able to display in those six tortuous months of battling the cancer, that there is always something to be grateful for in any situation.

Just as today’s Scripture mentions, we are encouraged to “be thankful in all circumstances.” We all know life is far from perfect as we live in a fallen world. Some days are better than other days. And some seasons turn into very longsuffering seasons where there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

So, what does it look like to be grateful in our daily lives? Here are some ways to accomplish such gratitude:

1. Gratitude begins by acknowledging who God is and what He has done. This is not dependent on your outcome of your situation nor is it dependent on another person. It’s solely dependent on God as your Maker, Redeemer, and Father of your life and all He has done. 

Click here for Previous Devotionals

2. A grateful person is humble and focused on God. It’s so easy to focus on your situation vs on God since your situation is probably staring you in the face. When going through a circumstance that looks hopeless, remember to fix your focus back on God. Humbly come before him with your situation and focus on Him rather than the pain you are experiencing.

3. Do not take for granted the small and ordinary daily blessings. If you’re sitting in traffic, be thankful you have a car. If your husband is working another late night, be grateful your husband is providing and leading your family. If you are not happy with your body, be grateful you are alive to see another day. If you dislike your current job, be grateful you are not unemployed. Just as my brother said — there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for in any situation – even the ordinary ones.

4. Be grateful you are going through a trial. Yes, you read that right. Scripture states “when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” James 1:2 How many times did you go through a trial, but come out stronger on the other side? It might hurt while going through it but it produces character and faith. So, when your next trial comes, I encourage you to see it as an opportunity for growth.

Although I miss my brother terribly, I’ve been able to turn my pain of missing him into gratitude. I am grateful that I knew Him for the short years I had with him on this earth. Grateful for the years I did spend with him versus the years I am now spending without him. Grateful than he taught me the true meaning of gratitude. I encourage you in whatever situation you are facing, to take the steps to turn your pain into gratitude.