This text reminds us to take time to honor God and remember the role God has played in our journey to liberation, recovery, deliverance, or success. It is so easy to cry out for help in trial, yet forget to recognize God in good times.
Particularly this text recognizes how easy it is to choose to take credit for our material success, our job or education, our family. We can begin to talk as if we pulled ourselves up by our own boot-straps. Yet if we forget to show gratitude for the gifts that made success possible.
The Biblical picture of life is that the gifts of wisdom, of strength, of opportunity, that we experience come from God. God opens the door, offers the strength, and we choose to participate with God. God invites us to healing, to recovery, to wholeness, and we choose to participate in the journey to each of these outcomes.
Ultimately God makes where you arrive possible.
As I write these words, I realize that taking time to recognize the way in which God has helped you arrive to this better outcome, whatever it is, necessarily includes taking time to recognize those agents of God that God uses to help make it possible. Each of us have people God uses to teach us the lessons that make our successes possible, or that make our failures become learning moments. We have institutions that God uses to open up opportunities. We have people who show us God’s trust in us by believing in us.
Taking time to remember God and thank God for these gifts includes taking time to also recognize those God has used to help you come to the point you are at today.
How do you do that in your own life?
In my life, two practices are helping me to do this better. One is regular gratitude lists. When we pray as a family, Kat and I have begun to each list at each five things we are grateful for which we say aloud, and which we then thank God for when we pray. I’ve started out of this to do this in my personal prayer time. Doing so keeps before me the many ways even in the most frustrating days I am given grace. It also helps me realize the many, many times God answers my prayers.
The second is taking time to write “thank you” notes, whether in a card or just an email. This is a small practice, but one my wife helped me begin as she had been raised to write “thank you” notes for almost everything in her family as a child. I find taking the time to write thank you notes to others when I realize they’ve helped me out helps keep before me the sense that I am where I am because of the blessings of others who cooperated with God as agents of grace.
What are your gratitude practices? How do they help you stay centered?