Perspective: The Grateful Heart
“Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” Psalm 106:1
Material things—perhaps one of the most distracting elements of this world. The decisions we make, the places we work, the time we spend... so much is centered around material gain. Our present day and age constantly feeds the idea that success equals the accumulation of things. It’s sad to think how much our focus has wandered from what’s important to what is superficial.
It’s not often that we really think about what we have, and rarely do we appreciate it. In fact, I think we get so used to all the blessings we have that we expect them—maybe even consider them a necessity.
I speak from experience. I can’t count on all my fingers how many times I’ve laid in bed at night with one nostril plugged—reminiscing on all the times I took untroubled breathing for granted—thinking, “If only this one nostril wasn’t plugged I would be thankful.” LOL. And then I wake up with my sinus troubles gone, and I don’t even think twice about it. Little do I know, as I lie awake quietly complaining about my annoying plugged nostril, someone else lay awake in a hospital bed with an oxygen tube flowing air into both nostrils to keep them alive. These things are all about perspective.
There’s a frequently quoted question (I believe by Max Lucado) that always causes me to assess my attitude of thankfulness: “What if you woke up this morning and had only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” More often than not, I’d be left with little to nothing.
In life, we go through loss. But from the limited years of life I’ve experienced so far, I’ve learned that in order to lose something, you had to have it in the first place. For instance, this year will be my family’s first Thanksgiving without my grandpa. It will be hard, and it will never be quite the same again. However, I know my family wants to spend this holiday remembering all the funny things he would say, the strong—yet soft—embrace he always gave so generously, and the way he loved us through to his last days. I was inexpressibly blessed to have such an amazing man as my grandfather, and that’s what I actively choose to thank God for.
Not only does loss indicate the fact that we had something, but there are more blessings surrounding us every day which go unnoticed. If we have food to eat, water to drink, the very breath in our lungs, we have something to be thankful for.
Most of us also have an abundance of unnecessary things that keep us entertained, educated, safe, and much more. In addition, many of our daily experiences are blessings that go unnoticed.
One of my favorite characteristics of God is that He is so personal. He knows exactly how to bless us, and—he wants to. I remember specifically one day last year when I was in Ireland. I was sitting on a stone wall with someone who is now like a sister to me. We were looking over a beautiful green hill that led down to a sparkling lake. I was admiring the beauty of it when all of a sudden a group of horses—my absolute favorite animal—came running over. All this was happening just as the sun was beginning to set, casting vivid colors over the clouds (sunsets are another one of my absolute favorite things).
I found myself getting teary-eyed thinking about how well my Lord knows me. He knew exactly what would be perfect to bless me in that moment. I don’t think I will ever forget that day, because I felt such a sweet and special connection with Abba.
He is personal, and so many of the little, insignificant things you encounter throughout your day—things that make you happy—are gifts from Him. Try to spot them when they come! It makes life so much more colorful and beautiful.
So this Thanksgiving, I challenge myself, and I challenge you, to think about what you may take for granted—the everyday things. Or the big things! Anything that you may be so used to, you just expect it. Anything that may seem inconsequential, but could be blessings going unnoticed. If you are experiencing loss, let yourself mourn, but let yourself also revel in the fact that you had something to begin with.
Let’s ask the Lord to open our eyes to the many blessings and abundance of things that are there simply to remind us that God loves us. He loves you so tenderly, so purely, so beautifully. Nothing in this world could be more valuable than that.
by Kaylee Kissack