Life is difficult. In our society we are set up to expect that life should be anything but difficult. One of my mother’s favourite songs to sing is “Count Your Blessings.” She comes from a large, singing family who liked to gather together around the piano on Sunday evenings and belt out songs. I remember that song as one of her particular favorites, because she pointed out to my siblings and I how grateful she was to God for her life, her family, her church and her faith. Throughout all kinds of difficulties, she has not wavered in her belief that God is good. Today in my own family, we often repeat the saying “We don’t know how good we have it” as a reminder to see things graciously and with humility.
In Christian education, we have the task, along with the family and the church, to teach our students how to be gracious and filled with gratitude. It is one of the habits of the heart that can be cultivated into our daily classroom/staff room practices. Reflecting on what we can give thanks for becomes part of the daily rhythm of the school day. I wonder if too often we wait for “Thanksgiving” or other special occasions to talk about God’s blessings when in fact we can see his grace each and every day, no matter how difficult the circumstances.
This does not mean that we are always happy, nor does it mean that sickness, death and disappointment aren’t present in our lives. Life is difficult. And in the difficulties, can we live in hope, and can we seek to be gracious and filled with gratitude? We have the ability to make a choice to be grateful because that is who we are and how we have been taught. The parent of a dear friend, when difficulty came, once said, “Why not me?”. I know that seems easy to say when you aren’t dealing with crises, but trying to find meaning and be grateful in the midst of hurt and pain is certainly a place to grow into.
Each of you, as leaders in your classrooms, schools and communities, may bear the wounds of your students, colleagues, families and stakeholders. We all need to work towards understanding that living on this side of Jesus’ return means that difficulties are normal. We need to work towards being able to see God’s grace. Singing, “Count Your Blessings, name them one by one” may be one really positive place to start!