These are days when gratitude might not come easy.

It’s tempting to scan the horizon each morning and to let your gaze rest and fix solely on the things that burden us; on the sorrow-bringers and the treachery they manufacture, on the terror we are daily surrounded by because of their seemingly boundless contempt for life.

We can easily allow the perpetual, urgent storm of darkness they manufacture to obscure the light from view, to fool us into believing that the night has fallen on our best days. But this would be a mistake. It would be playing right into the hands of the sorrow-bringers. To lose hope now would be to consent fully to them and their designs—and so we cannot.

For this reason, it is a life-sustaining, hope-preserving act to take our eyes off the sorrow-bringers and to let ourselves dwell on those people who resist the despair, those who wield light in these black days, those who still walk defiantly in love.

Today I am dwelling on them. Today I am giving thanks for the fighters.

I am giving thanks for the ordinary activists who are living intentionally, joyfully, and beautifully in days when such things are most difficult—for the people who will not genuflect to inhumanity simply because it has power and demands that we kneel.

I am stopping to let my mind hole up inside gratitude for a while; to find rest in the knowledge that good people still inhabit this place; that a massive, disparate swath of humanity still wakes up everyday looking to do no harm, seeking to be decent. I am giving thanks for the rabble-rousers and the troublemakers who serve as a thorn in the side of the sorrow-bringers; those who confound and exasperate and pushback when human dignity is assailed.

Today I shout a grateful amen for those who raise a bold middle finger to the hateful parade as it passes by; the people who will not be bullied into giving up on love for our neighbor as the greatest endeavor of this life.

Today I give thanks for the fighters; for those speaking up for the first time, for those speaking up for the ten thousandth time, for those losing longtime friends to defend a stranger’s life, for those leaving churches where love no longer lives, for those saying “me too,” and dragging their damagers out into the light, for those calling out racism across the dinner table, for those calling out bigotry in their workplaces, for those calling their public servants to actually serve the public, for those calling bullshit on a President who demonizes Muslims and brown people, for those who see a stranger’s children as worthy of protection as their own, for those giving up sleep and comfort and compromise, so that someone else might be shielded from the sorrow-bringers.

In days when gratitude does not come easy, it is an ever greater priority to nurture it.

Today, I’m thankful for every human being who boldly resists the madman, his minions, and his sycophants; all those committed to equality, diversity, compassion, love, and justice—and who will not relent.

And come to think of it, maybe seeing this bold, defiant army coming in love on behalf of others every single day, should make gratitude come easy. It should make thankfulness our default setting.

Maybe this truth, is what the sorrow-bringers most want to hide from us. Thank God for the fighters who let us see the light again.

John Pavlovitz

Originally published on as Giving Thanks for The Fighters

John Pavlovitz launched an online ministry to help connect people who want community, encouragement, and to grow spiritually. Individuals who want to support his work can sponsor his mission on Patreon, and help the very real pastoral missionary expand its impact in the world.