3 Ways to Stay Thankful in the Midst of Tragedy

It just feels awful -- like there's a gaping wound across America, desperately needing to be healed.

During tough times like this, gratitude is a necessity -- a skill for survival. Here are three ways to improve your thanksgiving when it seems that darkness, grief, and fear abounds:

1. Look for the Helpers.

I'm taking this one from Mr. Rogers, but it's timeless advice: look for the helpers. Here's a quote from RockinGodsHouse.com:

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s an oft-quoted line from Mr. Fred Rogers. “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” The more I’ve thought about this phrase, the more it has resonated with me. Instead of focusing on the evil, the pain or the suffering, focus on those who are doing something good in the situation.

Even though that advice was originally meant for kids, it applies to the rest of us too. We need to look for the good things currently being doing in response to the evil. That's much better than obsessing over the evil that's already been committed.

2. Pray for Our Enemies

Christ commanded us to love our enemies and forgive them. The families of the victims have -- shockingly enough -- publicly forgiven the killer. The killer, meanwhile, remains unrepentant as of the latest news stories published 6/19. Who is now walking in freedom and who is in bondage? Those who have chosen to forgive are the ones who conquered the wickedness and have been liberated. When we allow unforgiveness to rule over us, our hearts became slaves to that hate/wrath/rage/brokenness. But when we forgive, we open a door for joy and healing to begin a new work inside of us. Praying for our enemies is the first step toward forgiveness.

3. Look for the Little Blessings

Even in terrible darkness, there are always signs of life, of goodness, of hope -- of the Author of Life. I think of Corrie ten Boom. She was a Christian who was sent to a concentration camp during WWII because she hid Jews in her home. While in the camp, she still found the smallest of blessings for which to thank God and nurture hope and even the smallest flames of joy in her heart.

God's love and joy can conquer any darkness, if we have eyes to see and ears to hear.