As things in my life went downhill over ten years ago, my brother helped me to keep things in perspective. Over the course of a few months an employee of mine died in a crash with her husband and one of their children, I got pulled into the legal fight for the remaining child, my now ex-wife had an affair while I was distracted by the legal battle, she then left me for another man, my business went under and I filed bankruptcy. While I was having a pity party one day, my brother looked me in the eye and said, “Believe it or not, someone else has it worse than you do. You can be thankful you’re not them.”
No sooner than his words hit my ear, they pierced my heart. I had been feeling like my life was worse than what Job had experienced and the truth was that my life wasn’t as bad as it could have been. When my thoughts of pity changed, my perspective changed. I quit trying to find others to feel sorry for me and started to find reasons to be thankful. When I started doing that, my situation didn’t change. In fact, it continued to get worse. What did change was how I saw myself in the storm and the purpose of the storm.
Instead of asking, “Why me, God”, I began to ask, “What am I to learn from this?” Being thankful changed me from being a victim to a student. Even in my darkest hour, God had something to show me. It turns out He was desperately trying to get my attention. I had been stubbornly ignoring His call and not living how He wanted me to. I had ignored His gentle warnings and signs to change and now He was getting louder and louder in His attempts to get my attention. God wasn’t content to let me live my life my way. He wanted me to live it His way. I’m thankful now that He didn’t leave me in the life I was living.
The theologian Albert Barnes said, “We can always find something to be thankful for, and there may be reasons why we ought to be thankful for even those dispensations which appear dark and frowning.” In my life I’ve always remembered that someone always has it worse than anything I will ever face. I can always be thankful for that. When times are tough and life isn’t going the way I think it should or I feel I’ve been dealt a bad hand, I no longer pretend I’m the victim. I now know that even when things appear bad or that they can’t get worse, God is there in the storm with me. He hasn’t left me or forsaken me. He’s there enduring it with me and wants to use the experience for His glory.
If you’re in the middle of a storm in your life where you feel like things can’t get worse, I challenge you to find something to be thankful for. Are you still breathing? Then you have something to be thankful for. Your life isn’t over and God can rebuild your life from the ruins of where you are now. Lose the victim mentality and become a student of what God wants to show you. To change your perspective, you have to change your mindset. A changed mindset begins with a thankful heart. Things may not get better right away, but being thankful will give you a purpose in hard times. That purpose, combined with a thankful heart, will pull you through.