"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
. . .
But I have trusted in your merciful love,
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
because he has dealt beautifully with me."
Lord, I do not feel close to you. I feel like you have forgotten me, like you have hidden your face from me. My soul is in pain in this desert, but I trust in you. I know your merciful love is greater than this trial, and I rejoice that you are my Savior. I sing to you because you are good to me even when I do not know your presence. Amen.
Being grateful when it doesn't feel like there's much to be thankful for is hard. When life is going well and we are in a time of spiritual consolation with the Lord, it's natural to express gratitude! But when we identify with the person in Psalms, when we feel distant and forgotten by God, that's when it's hardest to thank for Him for what He's done for us.
However, it's also the most important time to be grateful. In fact, it doesn't even matter if you don't feel particularly thankful. Notice that the psalmist does not express gratitude out of feelings; he decides to be grateful. This is an important key to cultivating gratitude in our hearts - persevering in thankfulness even when our emotions are empty or opposed.
A few years ago, I went through a particularly difficult and "spiritually dry" time during Lent. I struggled to keep a daily prayer life, and the sacraments felt empty and lifeless. Because of this, I began developing a love for the Liturgy of the Hours because practicing the structured prayer was the only way I could really pray. Eventually, I picked up the book Little Talks with God. In it, St. Catherine of Siena writes a conversation that she had with Jesus one day. He told her that sometimes he hides himself from people so that we seek him without relying on good feelings. He teaches us with a fraternal love how to grow in discipline and obedience (such as praying anyway and attending Mass faithfully).
What a loving God we have! Even in the desert, He is always drawing us closer to Himself. So do not be discouraged if you struggle with praying or focusing in Mass. Simply let your desire for closeness with Him be enough to persevere in prayer. Continue recognizing things to be thankful for, singing His praises, and asking for the grace to trust more deeply.