“1The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”
This word has been on my mind all week. I can’t shake it. It will pop into my head or I will see it in somewhere. The first couple of days, I defended myself from the thoughts. I am grateful! I do appreciate all that you have given me. I thought I heard some whining in my prayer. I shrugged it off.
By the third day I thought I’d better look at this gratitude thing a little more closely. It was becoming obvious that ignoring the nudges wasn’t going to work. That’s when things ramped up. There were the doctor’s calls about dad, financial deadlines, work deadlines, along with a bunch of little urgent distractions. These things made me feel anything but grateful. I wanted to dismiss the niggling feeling that I needed to examine gratitude.
By Wednesday my mood was in dark and sinking deeper. I couldn’t the find time or energy to write. I was seeking something when the word gratitude floated back. I angrily shoved it away. I felt trapped by my dad, my home, the weather, my job. I wanted to write and hide. I couldn’t do either. Then I came across a thank you prayer by George Herbert2 (1593-1633):
“Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more – a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleases me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise.”
The devotion came from “Tea Time with God.3” It described gratitude as being thankful for what is given to us whether we like it or not. I may not recognize the gift right now as what I want. I must have faith that the gifts God is giving me are what I need.
What do I learn here? Gratitude takes a ton of FAITH! A friend encouraged me to pick up my coloring book and just color. The coloring book I like is “Joy for the Journey.4” That evening, grumbling but willing to try anything to calm my spirit I flipped open my book. The picture is a garden of flowers with the words “choose faith over worry.” I laughed out loud at the nudging of the Holy Spirit. I could hear my friend’s voice in the words on the page. I began to color.
The underlying worry, I didn’t even recognize in my angst, started to fade. Gratitude for a God and a friend who love me replaced the brewing depression. While I colored the picture, my prayers of gratitude began to form. I whispered them to God.
Nothing earth shattering in the prayers. They were just grateful prayers for my family, home and life. It’s easy to thank and praise Him for the big and exciting blessings. Those blessings leave us in awe and are easy to identify God’s gifts. It’s the everyday gifts that I have a hard time seeing.
Today, I found Psalm 138. I hadn’t visited this Psalm in a long time. The last verse, Psalm 138:8 is what speaks to me as I write: “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” [NKJV]
What this says to me is God’s hand is at work in everything that concerns me. Little irritations or big goals, he is engaged with me in the present. The note on the scripture says the definition of perfect used here means complete. He will complete my concerns. He will handle them. Message to Milly: Let Him do what he does best and be grateful in all things.
My journey right now is just putting one foot in front of the other. It can be boring and tedious. I want to jump ahead to the exciting stuff I see in the future. It makes me want to grumble instead of be grateful. None of us want to walk the long paths of day-to-day needs to get to our futures. Every journey has its long path. Maybe it’s waiting for a delayed flight to get to a vacation destination, a long hike to see a magnificent waterfall, or just the day-to-day walk of a working mom to get to the next phase of her life.
5I will praise You with my whole heart…
God bless your journey,
1Definition of gratitude from Oxford Dictionaries on Bing.com
2 George Herbert was a Welsh-born poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England. [Wikipedia]
3Tea Time with God by Honor Books (pages 192-193).
4 Joy for the Journey” illustrated by Amylee Weeks
5 A portion of Psalm 138:1 [NKJV]