How to Find Gratitude
My travel mug was filled with hot coffee, but I wasn’t going anywhere.
My laptop was on, but I wasn’t typing anything.
The clock read 8:30 AM, but the sunlight remained hidden.
The day had all the telltale signs of being productive, but the morning felt dreary and dull under the government’s shelter-in-place mandate.
And that’s when I was nudged out of my malaise!
A loud, persistent noise interrupted the first few moments of my first Zoom meeting of the day. The sound was simple, familiar, and irritating. The birds perched outside my family room had returned from their winter disappearing act and my wooded backyard became a sanctuary of singing and chirping.
I confess I was irritated, “Why are those birds so loud? I’m trying to have a meeting!”
And then a smile came to my face, “The birds are back! And spring is on its way!”
The sound of birds chirping has rarely been such a welcome addition in my life. Most times they come, they go, and they return in their seasonal rhythms without capturing my attention. Yet in this difficult and unprecedented season, it was this recognizable sound that stirred my soul.
The noisy interruption to my meeting had provided me a moment for gratitude. The chirping of a bird against the backdrop of a world that seems out of control caused me to be thankful for the simple sound of nature at play.
One of God’s smallest creatures broke through my mundane morning moment, and when it did it reminded me it is often in the simple things where God reveals to us He is still in control of our world.
The little things often have more significance than the big things. The quiet moments often prove more powerful than the loud moments. And simple actions often prove more meaningful than the complexities of our lives.
Sometimes, birds chirp.
And when they chirp, they provide a wonderful reminder of God’s sovereignty amidst an anxious world. They break through the intensity of a moment-by-moment news cycle filled with heavy, dark news. And they provide a reason to pause, take a deep breath, smile a little, and recognize God is still who He tells us He is in His Word.
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. [Colossians 1:16-17]
He is still in control. He is still God. And He is still worthy of praise. This isn’t to ignore the plight of our world. The stories are heart-wrenching, the facts are staggering, the work is grueling, and the pain is real. Yet, in the face of all of these sad, troubling, anxiety-creating things, we can still look to God and give Him praise and thanks.
It is often in the simple things where God reveals to us He is still in control of our world.
We can thank God for:
- His amazing attributes — Isaiah 6:3, Psalm 25:8, Psalm 145:17, Hebrews 13:8
- His powerful love for His people — Deuteronomy 7:7-8, John 3:16-17, Romans 8:35,39
- The beauty of His creation — Psalm 19:1, Psalm 8:1, Psalm 139:14, Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:16
How important is a heart of thankfulness and gratitude toward God?
In his letter to the believers in Rome, the Apostle Paul says gratitude is a defining characteristic in the life of the believer: “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him” (Romans 1:21).
Having a heart of thankfulness toward God means we must put into practice what’s in our head and our heart toward Him. Our words and our actions should follow. We give God praise in the good times. We honor Him in the normal rhythm of everyday life. And we express our gratitude to God for who He is, even in heavy times like these.
This upward posture of head, heart, and voice helps to keep people of faith rooted in the God of the Scriptures in all seasons of life. This helps us fight the temptation to create a fictitious God in our own image. A God who does only the good things we’d like Him to do at the precise moment we’d want Him to do it.
Thankfulness draws us to the truth. It awakens our senses to the holy and the good and the right. Gratitude invites us to reflect upon the source of all things holy and good and right.
This is why a chirping bird, who boldly interrupted my morning meeting, was so profound. Because it drew my attention off of our current cultural situation, and cast my affection upward upon the reality of my Heavenly Father who is good — all the time.