Gratitude in Adversity

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Each Monday midday I participate in Grow Your Gratitude Yoga  What began as a way to support Black-owned businesses led me to an excellent class which is transforming my heart thanks to a gifted teacher and her gratitude affirmations.   This week as we were working on a more intense sequence, she affirmed gratitude in adversity, and I thought gratitude in getting through this, please.  Did I hear right?   Adversity?

As I continued to work, though, I felt my mind and body strengthen as though I were preparing for a pilgrimage which would ask much of me.   I would get through it, see transformation and come out stronger and ready to engage my full self in the world around me.   This felt good!  Fear, anxiety and grumbling fell away.  

Gratitude in adversity remains in my heart and mind.  Here are a few thoughts from my pondering.   May you, too, find blessing and gratitude in adversity. 

  • It is hard to select just one area of adversity, even in my own more protected world.  Let’s begin with COVID-19 which has claimed at least 240,000 American lives with a minimum of 10 million cases in the U.S. alone and rising exponentially.   The deaths of friends, family members and community leaders take a toll on us all, and more of us will be touched directly.  Meanwhile, all of us experience the pain of distance from dear friends, family and church community along with an underlying anxiety.  Where is gratitude?
    • I am thankful for knowing to the core of my being the importance of community.
    • I am thankful for seeing the lives of frontline workers and how valuable each one is.
    • I am thankful for the stirring of compassion and care for one another, be it as simple as wearing a mask and maintaining distance.
  • With the largest voter turn out in our history, we see a divided country that is leaning toward greater inclusion and expansion of our democracy and voices heard.  In the adversity of division
    • I am thankful for more truly seeing where people stand, and the illumination of our differences on questions of race, economics, and individual vs community freedoms and privileges.
    • I am thankful for the inspiration to explore my own heart and to listen deeply to those not like me in background or opinion.  I cannot pretend differences do not exist.
    • I am thankful for seeing the loving-kindness and acts of care for one another across any lines of division in politics and demographics.  We each can love our neighbor.
  • In the adversity of systemic racism which continues to hurt, kill and disappoint, 
    • I am thankful for a greater understanding of the broader system which has hurt Black people, Asian people, Latinx, LGBTQ communities and a list that grows.
    • I am thankful for novels, plays and other means which have opened my eyes and heart to others.
    • I am thankful for the forbearance, strength, and gifts of those harmed by a system favoring white males, whiteness, wealth and a narrow understanding of neighbor.

Let us go forth giving thanks in all circumstances, allowing our hearts, minds, bodies and souls to be transformed toward love of God and love of neighbor. 

With every blessing, 

Mother Elizabeth

If you wish, I recommend these two hymns to inspire your journey. 

—We Shall Walk Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. This virtual choir is lovely, though my favorite version is sung by Chicago A Cappella

— Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether

And the yoga: 1 Grow Your Gratitude Yoga Jai Crouch-Pelham

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