I still remember 11 years ago when a close friend found out the baby growing inside of her might have a rare chromosomal disorder which would result in death soon after being born. Any attempt to thank God during that circumstance was choked out by cries to him to have mercy on my friend and her baby. It was only after we received news the test results were negative that gratitude could again flow from my heart or my mouth.
In the day to day as well, when tasks, obligations and responsibilities send me into a stressed out flurry of activity I rarely pause long enough to consider the gift of each moment or the gifts in it.
Reading “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp last year deepened my understanding of gratitude. In her book, Ann speaks of a loss she endured early in her life rendering her and her parents incapable of feeling or giving gratitude to God. As an adult Ann is challenged by a friend to begin the work of recovering her gratitude. She does so with a list where she is to write down one thousand things for which she grateful. Her list includes things large and small like “#526 New toothbrushes” and “#783 Forgiveness of a sister.”
As a reader I too was challenged to begin regularly writing down the things I am grateful for. At first I was skeptical. How does thanking God for a parking space or a flower make me more grateful? I felt like it was making my relationship with God more of a business transaction. I couldn’t see how this would make me grateful in the hard stuff. But as my list grew, so did my gratitude. I never realized it before but gratitude is a practice just like Bible reading or prayer. The more you do it, the better you get at it. In thanking God for all the little things is the acknowledgement that everything is from Him and He is in control of everything. Being mindful of all of the little things like a cardinal on a tree branch, my functioning washing machine or my children playing nicely together have become a mountain of evidence that God is good and He does love me.
Sometimes, it seems there is a mountain of evidence in the world that says otherwise. We need the small, simple things as tangible reminders of the truth when the big, bad things come and we question God’s goodness. So in this season and beyond, let’s be grateful in all things and pause to say, “Thanks.”
Yes, terrorists attacked Paris.
Thank you that you are a God of peace.
Yes, Christians are persecuted and killed around the world.
Thank You that You are a God of hope.
Yes, my friend is battling cancer.
Thank You that You are a God of strength.
Yes, my neighbor is out of work.
Thank you that you are a God of mercy and grace.
Martha has been a wife for 17 years and is the mother of three children ages 10, 9 and 5. When she’s not folding laundry, c
ooking meals, helping with homework, kissing boo-boos, grocery shopping, cleaning house and running errands; she loves to hold babies at Immanuel MOPS!