Faith and Life: Set trials aside and find joy

What are you grateful for right now? Even if you are in the midst of a trial, however dreadful, what do you have to be thankful for?

We often lose our perspective in life when we are having struggles. For example, when there is a financial crisis, we may focus on it to the point of stress, worry and sleepless nights. And from a human perspective — rightfully so!

We have all been there. But what if in the midst of that crisis you have a good marriage or a child you love? It is regenerative to turn our thoughts toward those, which are true and rich. Now, what if that child you have and love has a disease amid your financial crisis? What do you have to be thankful for, then? Are they in remission, currently doing good, currently home with you to love, kiss and hug?

These may be random examples, but we can all plug our story in here. There is absolutely a time to grieve; I am sensitive to this. To not acknowledge another's grief is callous, to tell them to be thankful for other things during a season of grief, cruel. I just came off four years of continuous trials, several at once. Then my child had an accident, and someone passed away in my professional life.

A friend said to me, "When I heard this I thought, 'God, not Kimberlie. She has been through so much.'"

I didn't feel that way. I was thankful for my child being all right, healthy and happy in fact. And although I was grieved by the passing of another individual, I was thankful for other things: the shelter I have today, my family, friends, my relationship with God and His peace. You get the idea.

So as we embark on Thanksgiving tomorrow, what are you actually grateful for, not just thankful? Perhaps it is a year of tremendous blessing and peace. Rejoice! It is good to be joyful. We are not created to sit and endure trial after trial without joy or reprieve.

What if you are suffering? Does agony make bad circumstances work out quicker? Does it bring resolve? No. Sadness actually does do our body, brains and emotions harm. That is why finding positives in our lives to be thankful for brings a shifting to our gaze; our cheeks are turned toward the light instead of being stuck, unmoving in the darkness.

Joy keeps us vigorous, able to have the strength and peace to effectively work through trials, and keeps situational depression at bay in many cases.

I am thankful today. I look to the future in this life and heavenward in the hereafter. We cannot change the past, nor fix it. We could spend hours fretting over historical hurts, failures and wrongs done against us. But there is no power in that. No power to work them out emotionally and no power to change them.

We simply have to accept past traumas and trials. Learn from things we did to contribute to any, so that we are not victims, and accept our part in how we may have handled situations — even when they were not a consequence of our own behaviors, but someone else's.

There is no power in being "stuck." Find one thing to be grateful for. Discover many things to appreciate. Do not look at who has it seemingly better; but look at those who we know have it worse.

Acknowledge your blessings. Express thanks to our Lord. Embrace blessings, metaphorically or physically, depending on what they are. And speak them aloud this Thanksgiving Day with a joyful heart. Because in this, there is power.

The Rev. KIMBERLIE ZAKARIAN can be reached by e-mail at or by mail at La Vie Counseling Center c/o the Rev. Kimberlie Zakarian, La Vie Counseling Center, 650 Sierra Madre Villa, Suite 110, Pasadena, CA 91107.

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