By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Maybe we should call this “Grateful When You’re Growly,” or something that doesn’t seem too much like a Hallmark card. This has been a tough year for all of us; there has been COVID, political unrest, the disasters that are natural, the disasters that have occurred in Afghanistan, and for my part I have lost friends and family members.
I have been a passionate proponent of a lifestyle of praise for decades, and it has seen me through some hard, hard times. I learned the power of praise in the three years I spent in Iraq, and was humbled by observing members of our military praise when they would have really good cause to just complain.
In this past year, I have seen people continue to praise God even when they were in excruciating pain, both physical and emotional. Having a broken heart is a real thing, and sometimes people die from it.
So, why praise when it seems there is absolutely nothing for which to praise God? You already have your answer — there are always things for which to praise God, always.
I went through a season of sickness recently, and it was no fun. I have certainly been sicker before, and for a longer period of time, but this time around I found that I just had to work a whole lot harder to be civil. It was unsettling, to say the least, and I had never experienced anything like it.
And yet, I have come to the place where I can genuinely praise God for something that I know He never created, that being crud and crankiness. For the first time in my life, I have compassion for people who have a tough time managing their mouths and their emotions, and that is the blessed result of having been laid up and feeling puny.
What else happened? I had lots and lots and lots of time to think and pray, and I don’t remember a time when silence and solitude has been more restorative. It was, in many ways, a forced vacation, for which I am genuinely grateful, and it was full of moments of meditation.
What else can I say to commend the practice of praising when it’s tough? Neuroscience. Studies show that a lifestyle of praise and gratitude helps fight disease, strengthens your immune system, and yes, even can help make you smarter.
So, if you are feeling like you are the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz after the winged monkeys took him apart on the road to the Emerald City, remember that his straw that was strewn all over the yellow brick road was replaced, and he got his heart’s desire — a brain.
I have no idea what your heart’s desire is, but I bet it includes being a positive, kind person who sees things for which to be grateful, no matter what. And while praising in and for all things can seem like a bit of a stretch, I can say, “Try it, you’ll like it!”