Giving thanks seems a simple enough task. All it takes is to be grateful and say thanks! Yet, there are times when giving thanks does not seem right. Take the bushfires in Australia right now. Of all those who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods how many feel like giving thanks?
It is only right that we give thanks for the firies; emergency services; medical teams; volunteers; the military; government and non-government workers and each other. But how does a person take the step of giving thanks in circumstances of great loss? A home can be rebuilt but a life cannot be replaced.
No one can bring back possessions which are lost. The photographs, the mementos, a lifetime of work. Only the memories survive. If the memories are not enough, what next?
Is it time to take a different track and be thankful? What a preposterous thought! Even now when I write this there are new bushfires, many out of control, across Australia. There will be more loss, more fatigue in the fight, more heartache. Is there any room left to find a place of gratitude, a time for giving thanks?
It is easy to give thanks and have a happy outlook on life when things are going right. But what about when everything is going wrong? Is it possible to give thanks in difficult circumstances?
Giving thanks in the midst of difficult circumstances calls for radical gratitude. Radical gratitude means that even in the midst of great suffering and loss it makes a difference to our well-being if we can find something to be grateful for. Taking such a step, as difficult as it might be, will help create positive emotions. Giving thanks is the first step in rebuilding hope, in rebuilding life after loss.
I hope that all those affected by the devastating bushfires, in whatever form, receive all the support and help they need. I believe everyone needs good counsel, whether this is good advice from a friend or from a qualified counsellor. No one should take the solitary road. Giving thanks is not the complete answer, but it is the best beginning, a first small step for life ahead.