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Food for Thought - Musings

All is Gift

When I first came across this phrase I had initial resistance to it. ALL is gift – you have got to be kidding! Is cancer a gift, the loss of a child, job or a house - are those all gifts? As I calmed down a little and stood back at a safe distance from the phrase and began to ponder it, something started to change within me. Maybe there is more truth to that phrase that I first thought—but it is a truth that lays not on the surface of what we can taste, see or touch. It is a truth that belongs to the eternal, the unseen spiritual world. It is a truth that is an outflow of who God is, namely, a God that can bring good out of the stuff of life even though that “stuff” is not always pleasant or desirable. This new perspective of all being gift when embraced can cultivate an attitude of gratitude, an internal stance that is predisposed to thankfulness. This new attitude of gratitude helps one to become attentive to the “echoes of God’s grace” in one’s life even in dire circumstances.

As we begin to view life through the lens of gratitude and thankfulness, it is powerfully transformative, fostering love for God, trust in God as well as appreciation and joy for the life we live. On a purely human level, positive psychologists believe that the regular practice of gratitude enhances psychological and physical well-being. And as usual these modern findings are merely reaffirming what the Bible has declared to be a valuable practice for thousand of years. The Bible quite clearly encourages us to give thanks, be thankful, to even rehearse the blessings of our salvation and forget none of the benefits that flow from God to us now and forevermore. The statements encouraging us to give thanks to God are ubiquitous in the Psalms, and in the New Testament Paul very poignantly writes in 1 Thes 5 that we are always to give thanks or we are to give thanks in all circumstances. These statements encourage us to see that all is gift and indirectly affirm that the echo of God’s grace rings out in the valleys of despair and upon the mountaintops of elation—so pay attention.

With all this as background this month, as we march toward our celebration of Thanksgiving, I want to encourage you to keep a gratitude/thanksgiving journal. This involves you stopping at some point in your day, pausing and reflecting on your day using the question ‘What was I grateful/thankful for today?’ and/or ‘Where did I catch a glimpse of the echoes of God’s grace in my day?’ and then writing down at least three things in response and thanking God for these gifts. This simple practice helps to reinforce the words of James as recorded in James 1:17, that every good gift comes from heaven above and assists us in developing spiritual eyes to see the echoes of God’s grace in our daily lives, which in turn enables us to grow in our love of God and trust in God even when the echoes of God’s grace seemed muted by the difficult and dire circumstances in our lives.

So, there is no time like the present to get started. As you sit right where you are pause for a moment to ponder the events of your day asking yourself What was I grateful/thankful for today?’ and/or ‘Where did I catch a glimpse of the echoes of God’s grace in my day?’ Stop, look and listen for the echoes of God’s grace in your day.

This practice is very simple and can be done informally around the dinner table, over a cup of coffee shared with a friend, even in simple conversation. Do not be afraid to invite others on this journey of gratitude and thanksgiving, remembering that this helps each of us to open our hearts to the good gifts we receive each and every day, gifts that remind us of the goodness of God but gifts that often go unnoticed.

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