In the past 24 hours, I received some disturbing news. One of the deacons from our church had a mild stroke and our other deacon died. A man I know had major surgery for colon cancer. A beautiful little boy that used to visit me at work is in the hospital having multiple surgeries. An old friend developed an infection and was put in ICU. I will work three wake services this week and a friend’s nephew excited to start a new chapter in his life had his life shortened on his way to his new job. He was struck by a car on the turnpike and killed. He leaves behind a beautiful wife, young daughter, and a baby boy in his wife’s womb.
Our lives can change in a moment and when we hear news like above it brings us to the reality of our mortality and can create fear. Life is a precious gift, and I have learned to be grateful for every moment. Things that have concerned me in the past are no longer important, and I ask myself, will this matter in a year? In 6 months? In 1 month or two weeks? Probably not, It’s time to let go. I recently watched an interview with Tony Robbins, and he shared something that struck me. He said anger and fear are the biggest hindrances to our spiritual growth, and when we focus on our blessings we no longer feel anger or fear. It is impossible because, gratitude dispells their existence.
Many authors and public figures have spoken and written about gratitude, but somehow Tony had a way of putting it in a perspective I better understood. He suggests we prime ourselves in the mornings with gratitude. Before I open my eyes and step out of bed, I think of three things that make me blessed and grateful. This could be the simplest thing, like the sun shining through the window or birds chirping. I do this every day and I wake up in a much better mood than I used to. It isn’t that I wasn’t aware of my blessings or that I took them for granted, well, maybe a little. I think it was that I had a tendency to focus on the obstacles and challenges in my life more, and they began to crush my awareness.
Going through my recent health scares I’ve learned to incorporate this gratitude principle as part of my daily routine, and it definitely has had a positive effect. It is amazing what life circumstances and gratitude can reveal about ourselves. I remember when my mother-in-love (I prefer love over law) was suffering from ovarian cancer and she wrote me a letter right before she passed away and her words stood out powerfully to me when she said, “in the end all that matters is family, family is everything, isn’t it?”In my gratitude practice, I have learned that she was right. My family is what I am most grateful for and is my treasure I hold deeply in my heart. I suspect that each of the people I have spoken about in my opening paragraph might admit the same. What has your gratitude practice revealed about what you treasure the most? Scripture speaks of gratitude too, here are a few of them.
Colossians 3:15-17 New International Version (NIV)
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 New International Version (NIV)
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
James 1:17 New International Version (NIV)
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.