Gratitude in Prayer & Pain

Every Thursday night in Seminary, we had a beautiful tradition of mishmar. Mishmar was a place where we were vulnerable through song and word, equally as we were empowering through Torah and prayer.

“״טוב להודות לה׳

Without fail, every Thursday night there was a request to sing the song, “Tov LeHodot LeHashem” and with that the follow up question of, “Which one?! The upbeat enthusiastic one, or the slow, melancholic version?

The concept has me thinking, the quote translated means “It is good to thank G!d” and while the quote translates equally among the two versions, the approach and effect are drastically different.

Thanking G!d, in a uproar of jubilation and rejoice comes easier, it is a product of reward; a “Thank You Card” to redemption.

But with clarity of G!d’s control and guidance in our lives, the prayer born of pain serves as strength and the purest gratitude.

I had a moment recently during prayer that I personally found extremely powerful. I have been trying to improve my mentality during prayer to be focused on positive gratitude rather than praying for salvation for my life struggles. However, in this one moment of prayer, I couldn’t do it. I could not bring myself to feel positive gratitude for all of the emotions and thoughts I have been experiencing. This moment gave me a breath of realization; I can experience gratitude for the struggle with the understanding that it is because of the depth of those emotions that goodness will come.

There is a quote by Rebbe Nachman that I love and I believe deeply articulates the message of pain and gratitude.

“There is nothing more full than a broken heart”

Rebbe Nachman knew exactly the source, the platform where gratitude catalyzes. The fertile soil of pain and struggle, the broken heart that longs to be filled with love and healing. This broken piece of us, rather than inhibit us, offers infinite opportunity to replace and replenish ourselves with even more, new wholeness.

This notion of destruction leading to growth applied to prayer, is what I realize this moment was. Feeling pain and hurt does not call for desolation, rather it has the most bountiful potential for gratitude. In my previous post “Diving Timing” the focus was adjusting our mentalities towards gratitude. In this post, I suggest we validate our hurting emotions to achieve true gratitude. Taking a moment while in meditation or in prayer, in conversation with ourselves, others and G!d. Taking a moment to face the struggles we may be enduring and replenish our souls with the validation that we are in the exact emotional state we are meant to be in to accept solutions from G!d.

Allowing ourselves to be grateful, not in spite, but because of our pain. This is something I’m still struggling with, but with the Rebbe Nachman quote in hand and the power of prayer, I know that gratitude will overflow.

I pray that everyone’s soul song of gratitude consists of the upbeat, enthusiastic version, but also am encouraged and inspired by those who choose to continue singing the slow, melancholic one. Both are beautiful.

About the Author
Edan is currently studying for a degree in English and Torah education. Since making Aliyah in 2020, she hopes to share some of the wisdom and insight she has been blessed to have witnessed and heard, as well as try to articulate and pass on moments that were most impactful for her. Edan believes in using the power of words to silence our fears, worries and doubts in order to hear our inner truths of clarity, faith and hope. Through some poetry, Torah and anecdote, she is praying to illuminate the lights that already exist in all of us.
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