Starting with gratitude

Can I admit it?  There are days when I feel a little discouraged.  There are times when I am weary and unsure that my efforts and the dedicated work of the church are making even a dent in the myriad of challenges facing us today. There are moments when the angry voices and ugly violence that fill the news cause me to despair that we will ever experience God’s peace or come close to God’s loving justice.

The wisdom of Proverbs whispers to me, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding” (3:5). So then I resolve – again – to place my confidence in God. 

            In order to do this, I needed to remind myself of God’s presence each day. I am developing a spiritual discipline (which is just a fancy way of saying I am trying to create and maintain a new habit) of gratitude.  Now in the morning before I look at my phone, before I turn on the news, and before I look at the (online) newspaper, I jot down five things for which I am grateful. I call it my thankfulness list.

            Sometimes my gratitude reflects the weather – I am thankful to be in a warm house on a cold, rainy day. Other times, I give thanks for communications – a Facetime chat with my daughter, texts from my sons, talking with my parents on the phone. Reflecting back on a previous evening’s meeting, I give thanks for volunteers who care deeply about the church and give their time and energy to live the Good News. It is usually not hard to find five things that warm my heart and fill me gratitude. And so I give thanks to God.

            These lists do not change the bad news that’s waiting for me. But they do offer me a fresh, uplifting start to my day. They provide a life-giving perspective. They remind me that God is at work in this weary world and that I am not alone.

            These simple lists bring me back to the eternal truth, “God’s steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). “Forever” is a long time. So no matter what I am facing on a given day, I do not go forth alone. God’s love surrounds me and for that, I am very grateful.

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