Friday, January 8, 2016

Hope and Gratitude

In yesterday's blog post, For Gold Is Tested In Fire, I mentioned that things were pretty tough for us financially. I also mentioned that I began to see how to turn things around after playing the Gratitude Game.
I found my hopes for getting out of the situation increasing as the gratitude flowed.

Gratitude for This Post

With my intention to revive Everyday Catholic firmly in hand yesterday, I spent hours after I posted my blog post struggling to come up with a plan for the topics I would write. I came up with some good ideas, but nothing felt right. I went to bed with no plan for the morning despite all that effort.

This morning, I went to my prayer chair, grabbed my journal, and wrote this:

Dear God, Thank you so much! I am so happy and grateful now that I have over one million views a day to my Everyday Catholic blog and am a highly sought-after speaker in the Catholic blogosphere. It feels so good to know that I am helping people learn to see God's love for them in every situation in their lives. 

As I was writing those words, I began to reflect on gratitude and its relationship to the hope that I was feeling. I began to see a correlation between the two, an unmistakable link. So I wrote this next:

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see the true nature of hope and its correlation to gratitude. thank you for providing me the tools to help those around me who struggle with depression, especially depression brought on by suffering. thank you for transforming my life and the lives of my family this way.

Hope in the Dark Times

If there's one thing I've learned over the years of dealing with people, it is that hope is not a universal trait. It shines brighter in some hearts than it does in others. One thing is universally true about hope, though: It is hardest to grasp onto when times get dark. When you need it most, that's when it seems to slip away easiest. I wondered why that was. That's when it came to me.

The Source of Hope

As I sat in my prayer chair this morning, talking things over with God, I began to see that the source of hope is faith in God's unfailing love for us. If God loves us, we know that He will come to our aid. If God loves us, we know that no situation, no matter how dark it may seem, is going to defeat us. The more that we know about God and the more that we know God, the easier it becomes to have hope.

Ingratitude Steals Hope

Satan does not want us to have hope. He knows that if he can steal our hope from us, if he can convince us either that there is no God or that God does not love us, he can destroy us. He can convince us that there is no point to the suffering we're going through and that it's going to last forever. He can get us to kill ourselves physically or spiritually.

Ingratitude is the tool Satan uses to steal hope from us. It's how he blinds us to the good that God is doing in our lives during those dark times. He uses envy and avarice and pride to whisper into our ears that the proof that God doesn't love us is how much other people have that we don't. He focuses our eyes on what other people are receiving from God, and cultivates in our hearts the longings for those things.

Gratitude Restores Hope

This is why gratitude is such a powerful tool in restoring our hope. It focuses our eyes on the good things in our own lives. It banishes envy and avarice and pride. Gratitude reminds us that all of the good things in our lives did not come here by our own hand, but by a good and loving Creator who desires what is best for us. 

Gratitude reminds us that we have received gifts which others have not received, just as they have gifts we have not received, and that our gifts are not less than the gifts of others - they are just different. They are different because we are unique individuals each with a unique purpose and plan for our lives. Gratitude reminds us that we do not need more gifts, we just need to learn to use those gifts to our best advantage.

More Fruit from the Gratitude Game

As I prayed, I knew I needed to find a way to summarize this concept in an image that could be easily shared with others. After struggling to come up with it for fifteen minutes, I decided to apply the gratitude game to my need for the words. I wrote:

Thank you, Lord, for helping me to see the truth about hope and gratitude. I am so happy and grateful now that you have given me the exact words to put this concept into in an understandable and shareable phrase. I love knowing how much this phrase has helped people grow in their hope and their gratitude. It's so encouraging when I know that I am helping you to change people's lives for the better.

The results were nearly instantaneous. Within seconds, I had written out the exact right lines to use. I strongly advise you, if you haven't already, to try playing the Gratitude Game with God.

The Gratitude Game

I thought that just mentioning the Gratitude Game and how I played it might be enough for people to do it on their own, but I suspect that might not be the case, so here is how it works.

Don't focus on the problem or situation you face, focus on what you want to happen. Think big, as big as you dare to dream. Now, hold that image in your mind. Say these words to God, "I am so happy and grateful now you have" then thank him for the result you want. Put every ounce of emotion into this, as if you already had it in hand. Describe how receiving this solution has benefitted your life and the lives of others. 

A Few Guidelines When Playing

First, the more descriptive you are, the more you can envision it being real, the better the chance that your brain can come up with a way to make it happen. Second, you don't have to be specific about how the thing you want happens. Let God fill in those gaps for you. Just know what you want, know how that would change your life and the lives of others for the better, and thank God for it in advance.

Experiments with the Gratitude Game

I need your help. I would like you to play the Gratitude Game with God about any problem or area of struggle in your life. Please write down what you were struggling with or what problem you were facing, the time you began playing the game, what you envisioned, and the time the solution came. Then share it in the comments area below so that others can see it.

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