After my husband passed away, I was living alone with my younger children—one young adult who was already working, two teenaged boys, a younger daughter, and a preschooler—and I was also caring for my sister’s poodle, Poof, for a few months.

I frequently felt overwhelmed, and to make things worse, one afternoon while on a walk, Poof got attacked by two other dogs from a neighboring house and got a big cut close to his left eye. At the veterinarian, Poof got a bath, a haircut, and a few stitches, and a sweet nurse said, “Don’t get discouraged, everything will be all right. These things happen to everyone!” Her encouraging words saved me that day!

Over the next days, everyone in my family united to care for little Poof. The boys put mosquito netting all around the area where he stayed to avoid flies laying eggs in the wound, and everyone took turns dressing the cut and mixing his medicine with his food. This brought us all together as a family, and thankfully, by the time my sister came to pick up her dog, he was all healed without even a scar.

The late Christian writer Merlin Carothers emphasized the concept that “God’s people are intended to give Him thanks in everything that comes their way, for there is nothing that He cannot turn to good and use as a source of spiritual growth to those who love and trust in Him, and the results can be miraculous.” When we praise God for His goodness in any difficulty, we draw closer to Him and bring Him into the situation, trusting Him to act in our favor.

Showing gratitude for others is very important too. Life is hard enough for most people, and it’s so refreshing to hear a positive word of gratitude when the waves are big and threaten to drown us. Maybe that’s why Jesus taught us not to judge others.1 If we could see the burden that our neighbor is already carrying, like God does, we would be eager to help instead of judge.

To remind myself of the importance of gratitude, I also keep a gratitude journal. Even though I don’t add to it every day, when I do I try to list at least three things I’m thankful for. This exercise helps to lift me up and above the difficulties I’m facing at the time, and to put everything in the right perspective.

  1. See Matthew 7:1–3.