I live in Atlanta, Georgia, was born and raised here, and I love the Atlanta Falcons. It is a thrill for me to watch professional football players perform at that level. Have you ever thought about what it takes for those guys to get there? It takes hard hits, years of practice, and likely some struggles along the way. Elite athletes are willing to endure all of that because they understand they are being shaped for something to come. In much the same way, the difficulties God has allowed in our lives are there for a reason. They’re present for the purpose of shaping you for something big. You might not appreciate them at the time, but go ahead and thank God for them because they’re leading to something incredible.

I recently had surgery on my right shoulder and had to have some physical therapy. It was the first physical therapy I’ve ever had in my life, and this is what I learned: physical therapy is, more or less, paying somebody a lot of money to hurt you. They twisted my arm, and they stretched it, and it was painful, but I paid them to do it because there was a good purpose in it. Has the purpose arrived yet? Has it been fulfilled; is it complete? Not quite.There’s still some work to do, and there are still some hardships ahead, but I’m willing to accept those. I’m even able to give thanks for those difficulties because of what is coming.

God is working the same way in each of our lives, but we have to be willing to let Him work. We have to get to the place where we can say, God, I thank you for my hurts, I thank you for my past relationships, and I thank you for the past difficulties that you have allowed in my life. For all this, I am thankful.

What are some of the hardships God is using to shape you? Write them out and start to see them as a compost pile that is helping you grow a sweeter, richer life?

If you’d like to learn more about how gratitude can change your life, click here. I’m offering my book, Stones of Gratitude, for free this week!