The practice of gratitude

Back in 1995 I made a Joy List.  I heard about it somewhere, so I listed the simple things that brought me joy.  Some of the entries went like this:

  • Saturday morning on the deck with a fresh cup of coffee
  • Hummingbirds
  • Listening to the night sounds
  • Daisies in a blue and white pitcher
  • A freshly mown lawn

I would look at that list occasionally and think of the good things in my life and be thankful for them.   In November 2000, I made a new list of things that I appreciated, a second Joy List.  And from then on, it became an annual exercise.  Each November I write down things for which I am thankful, the simple and the grand.  And each year the list has become longer.

Joy Lists, Gratitude Journals, Thanksgiving Lists – they are not new, certainly not an original idea from me.  Anyone can suggest we be grateful for the blessings around us, admonishing us to have an attitude of gratitude.  It is a good idea.  It takes our focus from the problems we deal with.  It makes us look outside ourselves.  It makes us . . . well, thankful.

David, the Psalmist, had it right centuries ago.  His words flow with thanksgiving for the wonders of God, for His forgiveness, for His presence, for His continual grace, and more.

We have entered the busiest time of the year for most people.  Retail employees, UPS package handlers, postal workers, and families with too many events to fit on the calendar will be hustling and bustling around town from now until December 25.  We will all be trying to squeeze one more activity into our lives, one more shopping trip, one more long day at work. 

Gratitude can become lost in it all.

I challenge you to take thirty minutes this Thanksgiving weekend and make a list of the joys in your life.  Not just because it is a healthy activity, but because the God of the universe is worthy to hear us say “Thank You for all You have done for me.”

He is the reason I breath in and out.  He is the One who provides my food and water, my shelter and clothes, my family and my livelihood.  He sets the sun in its place and calls the moon and stars out at night.  He keeps the seasons on schedule (despite daylight savings time!).  He clothes the lily and feeds the birds. He puts thoughts in my head for such a thing as a blog.  He makes it possible for me to think, to reason, to create, and to enjoy life.   He is the presence that sustains me in the harsh realities of life.  He is the strength I need when I think I can’t take another step.  He is the Savior who redeemed me out of darkness.  He is the joy and the hope that awaits me each morning.  He is God.  He is all I have ever needed.  He is I AM!

Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.  His mercy is everlasting.  His truth endures to all generations.

Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

 Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all His benefits,

Who forgives all my iniquities, Who heals all my diseases,

Who redeems my life from the pit,

Who crowns me with loving kindness and satisfies me with good things

so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

 Bless the Lord O my soul!

(from Psalm 103)


2 thoughts on “The practice of gratitude

  1. Pingback: Thanksgiving on purpose « strengthened by grace

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