Gratitude in Times of Fear

Part of the life of faith is realizing that in challenging times, gratitude is a choice. It may seem counter-intuitive to offer thanks in times of fear and uncertainty. Experience has taught me otherwise. When faced with complex overwhelming situations, I often react with anger, or seek someone or something to blame, or give in to hopelessness. I’ve learned these feelings and reactions don’t help me feel better. They intensify my feelings of fear. Gratitude guides me to tell a different story. Gratitude enters in when I become aware that fear contains an opportunity to explore a different way of relating to the world.

Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful. For many, it is also a time of challenge: a time of mourning and grief, a reminder of life’s difficulties, or anticipation of conflict with those whom we disagree. What strategies do you have in place to help you maintain your rhythm and grow in gratitude?

If all else fails, I suggest taking a walk. Get some fresh air. Move around a little. Use it as a time for prayer. Walking can become prayer in motion.

Before you begin, take three deep, healing breaths. Breathe in peace. Exhale joy. Invite the Spirit to join you. Remember you are walking to become aware of your world and how you fit into it.

Begin to walk slowly. What do you see, hear, smell, and feel. As you walk, offer thoughts and words of gratitude.

Continuing to walk in a spirit of prayer, you become aware of the needs with you and around you. What are you feeling as you walk? As you become aware of your emotions and responses, offer them as prayer.

As you walk, does a scripture verse, a line of a hymn, or a mantra come to mind? If so, try breathing those words as a response.

During this season of thanks, I hope you are blessed at all times and especially in times of worry or fear. May you joyfully release all your worries about situations over which you have no control. May you take control of your life and your thoughts. And, may you feel grateful for your life.
“Grant us, O God, your protection; and in your protection, strength; and in strength, understanding; and in understanding, knowledge; and in knowledge, the knowledge of justice; and in the knowledge of justice, the love of justice; and in that love, the love of existence; and in the love of existence, the love of God and all goodness, Amen.”

Happy Thanksgiving!
Pastor Matt Braddock
Senior Minister, Christ Congregational Church

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