Have you ever walked through a season of loss, and had someone tell you, “You just need to count your blessings and be thankful for all that you do have.”
How did that make you feel?
When you’re grieving, when your heart feels like it could literally fail you at any moment, that can be extremely hard to hear.
Now, before you continue reading, I need to say that I think it’s true. I do think we need to focus on our blessings on a daily basis, and I do not want to discount the power of a grateful heart.
When you’ve lost a child, a family member, a job, or a dream, a grateful heart will not bring your child back, or it may not revive the dream that you’ve lost. I get it. I’ve experienced that same frustration. I’ve rolled my eyes a time or two at the whole “count your blessings” thing.
So, what do we do with this encouragement that seems a little misplaced and unhelpful?
First, we have to hit pause when we feel ourselves getting frustrated or hurt by the way someone tries to encourage us in our grief. Just because someone said something that didn’t exactly “lift you up”, you can’t necessarily hold that against them. If anything, we should be thankful that they’re at least acknowledging the pain. You should try to extend grace, because knowing “the right thing to say” is not always easy, and others can’t possibly understand all that you’re dealing with and the nuances of your grief versus someone else’s. What is encouraging for one person may not be encouraging for another.
I usually nod my head in agreement and thank them for their words. Because truly, I am thankful for their words, for them taking the time to fumble through an awkward conversation and just saying something (side note: if you know someone who is grieving, saying something is better than nothing at all).
Second, we have to look at God’s Word.
The kind words from family and friends have been such a sweet gift to me in seasons of grief, though there is nothing that compares to the strong, safe arms of Jesus. And I find that refuge in scripture.
You see, God encourages us often to praise Him in the storm:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds. James 1:2
He calls us to reflect on all that He has done for us when we’re experiencing drought:
And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness. (Deuteronomy 8:2)
Uh oh… This sounds a lot like “count your blessings.”
Though, when God asks us to count our blessings, I don’t think He is trying belittle our current sorrow. And He’s not trying to distract us from the pain we’re experiencing in the same way we count sheep to distract us from our racing thoughts.
I think He wants to remind us of His power to turn our ashes into beauty.
If you search your life and the lives of others, you’ll see that God performs miracles all the time. He answers prayers in small ways and big ways, and He extends mercy to us every single morning.
And yet, when we hit a hard season, we can quickly lose hope in His power to redeem our lives.
But. If we remember all that He has done in our lives, and in the lives of so many others, how can we not trust Him to rescue us and to take our incredibly painful situation and use it for His glory and our good?
If you’re having a hard time coming up with ways God has blessed you or has answered your prayers, I understand. Sorrow can be blinding. Discovering light when all you see is darkness is no easy task. Though, trust me. God has turned a desperately grim situation into beauty for you in the past. When?
He saw how profoundly broken our hearts were, how lost we were in this deceptive world, so He came to save us by dying on the cross for you and for me. And because of this great act of love, you can now escape hell and have everlasting life with your Creator, the One who knows you best. That’s a pretty big deal.
Listen, when you count your blessings or reflect on God’s goodness in your past, you’re not expected to forget the pain you’re walking through. You can’t possibly be distracted long enough to forget that your heart is broken.
But, based off of His track record, you can have hope for what God is going to do with your brokenness. You may not see it now, and that’s okay. Trust me, He is at work.
Remember, He is in the business of making broken things beautiful. I pray this gives you hope to face another day.
And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Caitlin Jordan is the assistant editor for TheCourage. She lives with her husband, Ryan, in Dallas, Texas. She is passionate about the importance of transparency and loving those that disagree with Christian beliefs. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.