Being stressed out and overwhelmed can leave you feeling powerless. When you feel powerless, you become susceptible to the siren song of anger. Anger makes you feel strong and empowered. Anger sustains you and fills your life with purpose and vindication for your pain.
Instead of gratitude, anger can crowd out despair and hopelessness. Anger can swell and press outward, providing a barricade against vulnerability. Anger can seem to be your protector, your vindicator, your savior. When that happens, anger becomes your god.
Rather than wanting us to be filled with anger, God wants us to be filled with gratitude. Anger drags us down while thanksgiving lifts us up. We could feel angry when troubles befall us, but instead, God wants us to be filled with thanksgiving, because he can turn those troubles into a resilient faith.
Anger puts emotions on overdrive, contributing to stress. Fear reactions can also contribute to stress. Fear of the unknown, fear of being hurt again, fear of failure, fear of pain—any fear can produce a stress reaction. “Fear can keep us bound so that we live less and less of life. The cost is the life that we did not live because of the fear.” So says Cloud and Townsend in God Will Make a Way. I would add that the cost is the life that we did not live because of the stress.
Gratitude is an antidote for fear. Fear focuses on all the things that could go wrong. Gratitude focuses on all the things that have gone right. When our gratitude is based upon the power and promises of God, we have an abundance of things that have gone right!
Fear-based thinking places us in a shaky position of insecurity. When our position is shaky, we become stressed, wondering not if we’re going to fall but when. Disaster becomes a certainty.
Gratitude-based thinking places us on a stable position of thankfulness. We are able to identify the ways we are blessed and connect with the positives in our lives. Because we know we have been blessed, we are blessed, and we are able to anticipate being blessed even more.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.
 Henry Cloud and John Townsend, God Will Make a Way: What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), 187.