Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter every day epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach
I remember one Thanksgiving, not too long ago, when all my siblings and I were home to celebrate. For some reason we were sitting at the dinner table ready to eat and were quite annoyed with each other. We were bickering and making quite a ruckus, and my mom yelled, “That’s enough! I want everyone to say one thing you are thankful for!” No one was particularly in a mood of thankfulness, but having to shift our focus helped change the attitude at the table.
I have been pondering gratitude a lot lately and have been struck at the power it has to change our lives. There are plenty of things that are rotten about our world right now- evil is alive and well. There are plenty of daily frustrations that can get us down- things like being stuck in traffic which drives me CRAZY! There are plenty of places in the Bible, though, where we are encouraged to be thankful. For example: Psalm 106:1 “Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever”. Philippians 4:6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.
It is easy to say that we need to be grateful, but what are we supposed to be grateful for? Here are several things I have been struck with lately:
- Our gratitude needs to go to God. If we don’t see that He is the source of the goodness in our lives, then I think we have missed the mark.
- We should name specific things. We can all say, “God, thank you for your provision”, and that is a wonderful thing. But we should be specific in what we are grateful for. When I start making a list of these things, my focus really shifts and my eyes are opened to even more things I can thank God for.
I am adding to a list each day of at least three specific things I’m grateful for. It might be something really simple- like yesterday the clouds were splendidly poofy and they were beautiful! The fellowship at the Cambodian church I attend was particularly sweet. My pesto pasta at supper was especially delicious. These are everyday things but because I am looking with eyes of gratitude, perhaps my senses are enhanced and I’m enjoying them even more.
If you started a “gratefulness list” today, what would be on it?