With a deep sigh of surrender, I eased back into the sofa. The joint and muscle pain was just too much. I had hoped for a walk, but once again it would need to be put on hold.

It had been nearly a year since all the pain had started. Since life had drastically changed.

As I sat, thoughts of my son’s similar rapid descent into poor health consumed my mind.

Frustration. Disappointment. Weariness. Concern. Anger.

They were beginning to take over. Laughter wasn’t a priority. And gratitude had descended to the bottom of my priority list.

The light of hope that had once filled my heart was barely flickering. And I was allowing it to happen.

You see, gratitude and hope are firmly intertwined with each other. One does not exist without the other. So, how could I expect my hope to overflow if I wasn’t looking at life through a filter of gratitude?

In all honesty, I didn’t feel like being grateful. It would mean consciously trading my complaints for praises. It would mean taking my eyes off the pain, concern, and frustration and placing it instead on the everyday gifts for which I could be thankful. But in that season, through that pain, it felt too difficult.

How about you? Have you ever been there? Or maybe you are there right now? A season where laughter is no longer a priority?

If so, friend, I get it. And because I get it, would you allow me to come alongside you for a moment and whisper words of hope?

There’s this amazing thing God does to our hearts and our minds when we look away from the trials and look toward Him. When we take our focus off the difficult and put it on the good.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Phillippians 4:6-8 ESV (bold text my addition)

One little step at a time. Expressing gratitude for the simple things. The things we often take for granted.

Then in the midst of our gratitude the transformation begins. The good begins to stand out. It begins to hold our attention longer. We become noticers of the good in our lives.

It’s as if gratitude holds a key that can unlock the doors of our hearts, allowing hope access within. As the hope builds, it overflows into our lives overcoming all of life’s struggles.

Without a doubt, some days are harder than others. It isn’t always an easy task to be a noticer of good.

But the truth is that success isn’t found in the easy. The greatest of breakthroughs happen when we push into the difficult by leaning into the strength of God.

For me, leaning into the strength of God through prayer, reading His Word, and choosing gratitude brought laughter, peace, and hope back into our home. The weight of negativity had lifted and we made the best out of our time stuck on the sofa. We learned what embracing our new normal looked like and committed to living with gratitude even if our circumstances never changed.

But our circumstances did change.

With the burden of negativity gone and the empowerment of gratitude and hope pushing me forward, I was a Mama able to continue my search for answers. In the peace I’d gained along the journey, I’d begun to listen closer to the wisdom God was giving me.

We found our home of less than two years was riddled with black mold. All the diagnoses of autoimmune diseases were incorrect. Mold was the culprit.

Today we are on the mend and the laughter is back. The road to complete healing and home reconstruction is long, but this time I refuse to let gratitude slip to the bottom of my priority list.

Friends, gratitude is a weapon. In it there is power to conquer the battles of life. So, let’s lean into Jesus, use the weapon of gratitude, and breathe in the hope that is ours to claim.

Lori Schumaker

As a wife, mom, teacher, friend, and writer, Lori believes her purpose is to encourage others to seek hope. Pointing others to Jesus brings her joy. Writing about the hope of Jesus is her focus. It’s because of this that she is excited to welcome you as a friend as you struggle through brokenness, celebrate life’s joys, and grow to know Jesus more and more. Find her blog, Searching for Moments, at http://www.lorischumaker.com/