Growing in Gratituide

These simple verses from Psalm 136 are a reminder of all of the verses in the Bible which call upon us to give thanks to God. God is good. God’s steadfast love endures forever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.
In the spring, Deb introduced me to the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun. It is a treasure trove of Practices That Transform Us. One of the classic spiritual disciplines in the book is “Gratitude.” The author states that gratitude practice includes “expressing gratitude to others….the habit of saying thank you….gratefully noticing God’s presence and gifts throughout the day….counting the blessings of life.”[1]
I believe we are called to thank God by living lives that are marked by gratitude. When everything is going well, it feels natural to turn to God with hearts full of thanks and praise. At other times—perhaps even now when we are living in the midst of a global pandemic—we may find ourselves offering more prayers of lament than thanksgiving. It may be easier to confess to God our anxiety, grief and fear, and to ask for safety and healing and comfort, whether for others or ourselves, than to identify and give thanks for God’s presence and gifts throughout the day.
But I know it can be done! And I know that when I do it, I feel better, I treat others better, and I am better able to deal with whatever challenges I am facing. In the last week I have had several conversations with individuals in which either they or I have acknowledged a “silver lining” in the cloudy skies of our lives. Thank you, God, for every silver lining.
I’m thankful for technology. Recently my brothers, their spouses, my husband and I used Zoom to visit together in celebration of my parents’ 68th anniversary. That was not something we had ever done or even envisioned in past years. It was a gift for all of us. I have heard from many of you that your families are getting together in similar ways. Thank you, God.
I’m grateful that I have the ability to work remotely from my home—as do my adult children. I do not take it for granted but acknowledge it as a privilege not available to all. I’m also thankful to know of situations where the ability to work from anywhere has allowed families to be together (rather than miles apart) to support each other through tough times. Thank you, God.
For all of us who are in Southwest Florida now, or will arrive sometime this fall, it is a gift to live in a place that is warm year-round. Time spent outside (rather than crowded indoors) is associated with reduced transmission of the virus and we can be outside almost every day. Thank you, God.
What will you thank God for today?
Rev. Dr. Sharon Harris-Ewing
[1] Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. (2015). Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (revised and expanded edition). Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Books.