Why intentional gratitude is critical for those in pro-life ministry

Why intentional gratitude is critical for those in pro-life ministry ( Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash)

I’m not sure what your Thanksgiving looks like this year, but it sounds like many of us will be dealing with unaccustomed limitations in terms of being able to gather with loved ones.

It’s been a tough year in many ways. 

Some of us have been sick or have even lost friends or family, whether from the pandemic or other reasons. 

All of us have had to adjust to restrictions. Most importantly, we’ve had to make do with less people time. We’ve not had the freedom to gather socially as we normally would.

While such restrictions are meant to foster the health and safety of the general public, there is a downside.

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Fear, anxiety and depression are on the rise—and with that, preborn children are more in danger of abortion than ever.

Here you are, bravely continuing your labor of love despite the uncertainty of the times. You’re learning to flex with the circumstances. You’re being as creative as possible. 

Why? Because you still care about the vulnerable unborn who are so close to God’s heart.

Still, you’re not invincible. You get discouraged at times. You have your own set of concerns. Your loved ones. Your own health. Plus, the ongoing challenges of your prolife ministry.

If you are carrying a load of care today, if you are anxious or fearful or weary, may I encourage you?

I’d like to offer you a key to emotional stability and good mental health—a key which is particularly appropriate as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

This is counterintuitive. Ready?

According to Dr. Earl Henslin, author of "This is Your Brain on Joy," your brain has one neural pathway on which either joy or anxiety can travel. 

Those two emotions cannot both take up space on the pathway at the same time. That means that if anxiety is occupying the path, there’s no room for joy.

That might be kind of a big “duh,” but here’s the thing: the opposite is true as well.

If joy is occupying the pathway, there’s no room for anxiety.

And guess who gets to pick which one takes up space on your mental pathway? 

That’s right—you do!

You have the power to kick anxiety out of your head. You do it by choosing joy.

I know that sounds difficult or even super annoying when you’re having a hard time. I’ve been there. What I want to share with you is not necessarily easy—but it is simple.

To be proactive about choosing joy, start giving thanks to God. 

Tweet This: You have the power 2kick anxiety out of your head. You do it by choosing joy. To be proactive about choosing joy, start giving thanks 2God.

No, really.

Get practical about this. Make a list or speak your bullet points aloud. Think about all the good things which have happened this year—including good things that came out of hard things. 

It’s really helpful to do this with someone else, too, so you can build one another’s faith.

My husband and I have gone through times where both of us were down, and we made the choice to start thanking God despite the blues.

Our intentional, expressed gratitude lifted depression and restored peace, joy and a healthy perspective.   

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

An added bonus here: if you’re struggling to know God’s will, giving thanks is one area where you can never go wrong!

This is a great principle to apply to your personal life, but let’s apply it to your prolife ministry in particular.

In 2020, what has God been up to?

Think of the miracles, both large and small, in the lives of your clients. Think of incremental changes made during Life Skills classes, or of hearts softened in the ultrasound room.

Consider how your clients have come closer to God through your ministry.

What financial miracles has God done? How has he supplied for you and blessed you? What has he been doing in the lives of your volunteers?

The human mind easily defaults to amnesia when it comes to counting God’s blessings. That’s why it’s important to purposefully remember them even as fresh challenges come our way.

We need to remind ourselves that God was faithful then, and He will continue to be faithful now.

Mind if I pray for you?

Father, bless my prolife ministry friends with inexplicable joy this Thanksgiving. Even if the celebration looks different this year, help us kick out anxiety, worry and fear by choosing to give thanks to You for Your many blessings great and small. Restore our joy, Lord, and refresh our perspective. As we give thanks despite difficult circumstances, may Your Name be honored and Your joy be visible in our lives. In Jesus’ holy name, Amen.  

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