gratitude

Small miracles

Today’s post is written by a new guest contributor, my pastor & friend, Rian Puckett. Thanks for this reminder, Rian.

My keys were lost, I was late, and my blood pressure was rising.  I felt compelled to pray. Now I know that there are those who will hear this story and think “coincidence.” Maybe. Maybe not. All I know is that at that moment I felt compelled to pray and that which I prayed about was resolved.

That was the beginning of a series of small miracles that week. My daughter, who eats entirely too much sugar, had what we though was a routine cavity. However, when we went to the dentist, she refused to open her mouth. You want to talk about being frustrated? Here we were, taking off work to take her to the dentist and she is refusing to cooperate. A visit to the pediatric dentist in another town was scheduled for the next day which made me livid. My wife took off work to take her, and when they did their examination, they discovered that not one but two teeth on opposite sides of her mouth needed to come out. She had never even complained about the other tooth hurting! Fortunately we were in the right place to deal with the problem. I felt a little ashamed of my attitude the previous day. Because when all the events played out, I could see God working in mysterious ways, and I had to say “Sorry for not trusting you. Thank you.”

mountains-2648796_1280It is easy to forget to be grateful for the small miracles of every day. Those things that “just happened” at the right time. There is a story in the Old Testament about a prophet named Elijah who was looking for an encounter with God and had been instructed by God to stand on the side of a mountain. The account says that there was a great and powerful wind that tore the mountains apart but that God was not in the wind. Then there was an earthquake and then a fire, but God was not in either of those. Finally, there was a gentle whisper, and Elijah recognized it for the voice of God.

I believe that many times the small miracles of our everyday are the whispering voice of God reaffirming involvement in our lives and reminding us that we are not alone. For this, I am grateful.

gratitude

Thank God for dental hygiene!

“There are kids in other countries who would love to get their teeth cleaned, Bethany.”

Really, Mom? There are kids who’d love to have bubble gum scented paste (I say “scented” because it certainly doesn’t taste anything like bubble gum) spread across their gums and teeth and sandblasted around, with the chance to spit into a tube every few seconds? I doubt it. But if there are, they are welcome to take my place.

And so it went.

My mom, in an effort to encourage us to whine less and say thank you more often, compared our situations in life to those of others. You don’t like supper? Well, think about those kids in X country who have no supper. You wish you had a denim skirt to wear to the party? Some people don’t even have clean clothes at all.

While I can now laugh at my insolence and appreciate my mom’s efforts, I have also learned lately that the admonishment, “Don’t think about what they have. Just be grateful for what YOU have” only works if I DON’T think about what they have.

When I look around at my friends and start wishing I were engaged, or see another friend newly pregnant and rejoice for her but inwardly feel a little sad that it’s not me, then I’m not living in gratitude. I’m just playing the comparison game, and in that game, I can never always win. Sometimes I might. Sometimes I might compare myself to my co-worker and be extremely grateful that I don’t have to deal with X or Y problems. Most of the time, though, I’ll find myself dwelling on the objects of my gratitude (or lack thereof) and not on the Giver.

How can I become more grateful? Focus more on what God’s doing in my life and on the gifts I’m given every day in all different guises. If I focus on this, there’s not time to compare myself to anyone else. If I don’t compare myself to anyone else, I find that I’m more grateful.

And that leads me right to the Giver.