I spent some time this summer reading a book about the hours observed by monks in a monastery. It has given me some good things to “chew on” sitting on my front porch with my coffee cup in hand watching the birds pecking around at the bird feeder. Consider this statement: When we open our eyes with gratitude to anything that comes our way, we see the divine light shining through everything that is. This sounds an awful lot like “In everything give thanks.” (I Thess. 5:18)
It’s easy to feel grateful for sunshine and good health. This summer, however, we’ve had abundant opportunity to praise God even when sunshine fails, and many in our midst have dealt also with failing health. Can we still give thanks? It’s a good lesson to learn to see the blessing of sunshine behind the clouds and spiritual wholeness hidden within a frail body. To be able to lean on God’s grace and demonstrate to the world how a child of God perseveres through trial is a privilege. It’s not a privilege we would seek, but when it comes, it can be a rich experience.
The author of this book I’ve been reading (called The Music of Silence) goes on to talk about how gratefulness creates generosity. Being generous, he says, creates a sense that [God] blesses us in unexpected ways, often in ways we obviously don’t deserve. Lamentations 3:23 tells us that God’s mercies “are new every morning.” Do we deserve this? Is it because of my own merit that I live here in a land of relative peace rather than in Pakistan or Syria? Certainly not. So how can I first be grateful for the life I have and then share the blessing with others?
I think it begins with acceptance. It’s easy to complain when the rain spoils our picnic or when the car won’t start or when the kids are throwing up. Somehow, even though we don’t say it, we think we deserve better. My mother-in-law made a simple statement that has gotten me through some annoyances this summer without griping. “It’s raining this year,” she said. “Some years are like that.”
I want to see the divine light shining through the rain, to praise God for his goodness, and then to respond in love to those God puts in my path. It’s going to rain; let’s drink it in and let it flow out in blessing.