Practicing Gratitude

Before I started this meditation today, I looked through my gratitude journal. It is by my computer or my prayer chair and I have been trying to write down things I notice during the day for which I am grateful to God. I have been doing this for a few days and plan to make it a permanent part of my spiritual discipline – you know the one, Practice Gratitude. This is a good thing for me, because even though I thank God for most things during the day, by evening when I’m tired, I’ve forgotten what they were. I do need practice.

There are many gratitude moments in my journal this week. Many of them for the beautiful weather and colors of fall. I love fall when it is like this. I thanked God for keeping me safe when crossing a major street with the traffic lights out. I listed the fact that the problem with our old car was that an oil filter had been installed incorrectly. It was fixed and we weren’t charged for it. I am grateful for this day when I had lunch with two granddaughters and one great granddaughter to have a birthday celebration of a granddaughter. I thank God for these and I believe it helps make me a more grateful person.

But when I turned on the computer to write—I asked myself, “Why on earth is my homepage the news?” There is another school shooting with people killed, today. Is this becoming commonplace enough that we don’t pay attention anymore? Do we still feel horror when we hear about yet another shooting, another abuse, another mad-man or woman, another crazy virus? Are we aware of God’s pain, too? But I digress.

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Paul says this in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. This too? I have to ask God, “How can I give thanks in all things when they look like this?” How can the families do it? Yet, I know that sometimes they do. I hear in my mind, “What part of ALL do you not get? “Dismiss all anxiety from your minds.  Present your needs to God in every form of prayer and in petitions full of gratitude.  Then God’s own peace, which is beyond all understanding, will stand guard over your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus”—Philippians 4:6-7.  I’m not sure I do get it. But I certainly need peace and joy. Some days it is hard to come by.

I am rather speechless in the face of all this trouble. I guess it doesn’t matter if I understand this instruction or not since it seems important enough to God that it is included in the Bible. I can’t figure it out, and the fact is that, humanly, I cannot even do it. But I can obey, God helping me. Because, what if? What if our prayers of thanks change things? What if God uses these prayers to bring healing and love into this world? What if our thankful prayers bring God more visibly into those situations to bring comfort to the grieving? What if, they help bring forgiveness? What if God, who could clearly bring all of this world to a close, like swatting a fly with a swatter, waits for our thankful prayers to act? I probably need to write, “Prayed with thanksgiving in the horrible things, too.”

At the bottom of the page in my journal, this is printed, “The Lord goes before you and will be with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.”—Deuteronomy 31:8. I thank God for this, too, even when it seems, he has.

Peace and Joy, dear ones—Donna

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