Life depends on so much that is beyond our power to control. Consequently there is much in our lives for which to be grateful. When we reflect on this we can think of a lot of things close to the surface for which we express gratitude to others and to God. These things are things we usually want or need, and when we get them we are indeed thankful.
But aside from what we desire, how often do we consider gratitude for the things that actually help us but for which we never asked? There are actually a whole lot of things at any given time in our lives that we just take for granted but for which, if we thought about it, we should be very grateful. In fact, in hindsight, there are a lot of things which, if given the chance, we would have avoided and for which, at the time, we might not have been grateful. Among such things are illnesses and our recovery from them; the death of a loved one and the ability to grieve and mourn; humiliations and embarrassments and the assessment they bring of our pride; and especially the times we are “forced” into situations we would not choose and the denial of self they necessitate.
It seems there are many “back door” things that have shaped us – especially spiritually – for which we should be thankful. This underlines and verifies Fr. Anthony DeMello’s tenet that “suffering teaches.” We learn effectively about life and about our spirit through what we suffer.
Therefore, more often than not, we should be grateful for the times we suffer. Such a statement may sound strange until one stops to consider how so many unpleasant and uncomfortable things in our lives actually have formed us – more than those that are comfortable and pleasant.