Several years ago I started the practice of writing down something I’m thankful for every day. It has to be something specific to the past twenty-four hours. I don’t allow myself to repeat the generic friends, family and food. Which friend and why? What about my family? Or what food brought me special pleasure today that I want to thank God for?
Psalm 50:23 says, “He who sacrifices thank offerings . . . prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” I want to see God’s salvation—what he is doing in my life, and I figure an attitude of gratitude opens my eyes to see that. My items for praise are not as beautifully expressed as Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. Mine is just a simple list that wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else, but reminds me of God’s generosity.
Except this month of November when some of my friends are posting something they are thankful for every day on Facebook, I find myself scraping the bottom of the barrel. I’ve got a new book coming out this weekend, plus several projects with deadlines in process and a list a mile long of things I need to get done. Today. Yet everywhere I turn there seems to be some delay, some complication. Nothing goes quite as planned, and there is always one more thing I need to add to my to-do list before I can tick off the big project. Some mornings I sit with my pen poised over my notebook trying to think of something—anything!—new that I’m thankful for.
Sunday our pastor talked about gratitude. He read from Psalm 104:33. “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” He pointed out that it doesn’t say, “I will sing to the Lord when things go my way.”
It doesn’t say, “As long as my book sells well,” or “As long as my computer works properly, the ice is smooth at the rink and the part we need for the candy stove comes in on time.” It says, “As long as I live.” I don’t give thanks because of the good things God has given me; I give thanks because of who God is. And who he is doesn’t change when the ice is covered with snow from the hockey team, when that little beach ball won’t stop spinning on my computer screen or the ordered part is still sitting in Mexico.
“May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works,” says verse 31. I am one of his works. I’m not sure how much the Lord is rejoicing in me right now with my blind eyes and ungrateful attitude.
Ephesians 1:3-10 is written in my thanksgiving notebook for days when I have trouble coming up with something to be thankful for (except that, overwhelmed with my mile-long to-do list which will be totally irrelevant in a couple weeks time, I haven’t thought to look at it until now.) In those verses I see that God chose me. (Me?) He adopted me. He redeemed me at the cost of his own blood. He forgave me for all those times I feel too overwhelmed to come up with anything to be thankful for. He freely lavished his grace on me. He even let me in on the mystery of what he is doing in the world. (I love mysteries and being in on the solution!)
I guess maybe I do have stuff to be thankful for even if today doesn’t go as planned.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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