Monday, July 31, 2006

FROM RESENTMENT TO GRATITUDE

Henri Nouwen offers the following reflection for all who minister to others in Christ's name. God, help me continue to try to respond in a healing, compassionate way to any who live with resentment or who direct their resentment at me:

"Healing ministry can be expressed in two words: gratitude and compassion."

"Healing happens often by leading people to gratitude, for the world is full of resentment. What is resentment? Cold anger. 'I'm angry at him. I'm angry at this. This is not the way I want it.' Gradually, there are more and more things I am negative about, and soon I become a resentful person."

"Resentment makes you cling to your failures or disappointments and complain about the losses in your life. Our life is full of losses— losses of dreams and losses of friends and losses of family and losses of hopes. There is always the lurking danger we will respond to these incredible pains in resentment. Resentment gives us a hardened heart."

"Jesus calls us to gratitude. He calls to us, 'You foolish people. Didn't you know that the Son of Man—that you, that we—have to suffer and thus enter into the glory? Didn't you know that these pains were labor pains that lead you to the joy? Didn't you know that all we are experiencing as losses are gains in God's eyes? Those who lose their lives will gain it. And if the grain doesn't die, it stays a small grain; but if it dies, then it will be fruitful.'"

"Can you be grateful for everything that has happened in your life—not just the good things but for all that brought you to today? It was the pain of a Son that created a family of people known as Christians. That's the mystery of God."

"Our ministry is to help people to gradually let go of the resentment, to discover that right in the middle of pain there is a blessing. Right in the middle of your tears—that's where the dance starts and joy is first felt. "

"In this crazy world, there's an enormous distinction between good times and bad, between sorrow and joy. But in the eyes of God, they're never separated. Where there is pain, there is healing. Where there is mourning, there is dancing. Where there is poverty, there is the kingdom."

"Jesus says, 'Cry over your pains, and you will discover that I'm right there in your tears, and you will be grateful for my presence in your weakness.' Ministry means to help people become grateful for life even with pain. That gratitude can send into the world precisely to the places where people are in pain. The minister, the disciple of Jesus, goes where there is pain not because he is a masochist or she is a sadist, but because God is hidden in the pain."

Learn more about Henri Nouwen at the Henri Nouwen Society.

Resentment is serious stuff. It can thoroughly sabotage and disorient the best people. Learn more about resentment and how to overcome resentment -- click here.

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