The Beauty of Gratitude

My son Brian received his first pair of eyeglasses when he was 11 years old. As he tentatively tried them on, he was astonished by the change they made in his vision. “I can read every word on the signs all over this store!” he exclaimed. On the way home he read aloud every street sign, billboard, and storefront with such gusto and gratitude that my husband and I laughed with joy.

When our son Kevin was 5 years old, he outgrew his sneakers; and we discovered Velcro sneakers at the Payless shoe store for the first time. When Kevin tried them on, he was so thrilled not to have to tie shoelaces that he leaped into the air and raced around the store, announcing to everyone, “They make me jump higher and run faster!” He ran everywhere that day and thanked and hugged us over and over again.

A Gift for the Giver
Few things in life are as lovely as a grateful spirit. It sweeps through a situation and elevates everyone it touches.

My sons’ reactions to eyeglasses and shoes changed my perspective on gratitude. I never considered these items “gifts.” They were simply necessities that parents provide for their children.

I had no idea that giving my children ordinary provisions could suddenly become a glorious gift for me until I saw how unexpectedly grateful my boys were. I learned that the reception of a gift could be a remarkable blessing that brings joy to the giver.

Years ago we took our young children to a baseball game. A rain delay suspended the game for several hours. So much rainwater covered the field that vacuum trucks had to come and soak up the puddles.

As the game was finally about to resume, the deluge returned. When the announcer reported that the rest of the game was canceled, angry and disappointed fans poured out of the stadium. At that moment, Kevin bubbled with delight, saying, “Thank you for bringing me here, Daddy. I loved seeing those big trucks!”

My husband wondered why he paid so much for a Major League Baseball ticket when his young son was thrilled with mere vacuum trucks. But when he realized the sincerity of Kevin’s unexpected gratitude, his heart melted. Appreciative children delight their parents, inclining them to give more. And we delight God when we have grateful hearts.

Loving the Little Things
Do you ever stop to recognize the value of ordinary things? Each of us is abundantly blessed, whether our benefits are mundane or extravagant. Our blessings surround us every day, perfuming our lives with grace and beauty. Yet we are often oblivious to God’s provisions, ambling through life in a foggy stupor and wasting opportunities for gratitude.

Scripture practically shouts of God’s goodness and His abundant blessings to us. James 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.”

This verse can change our lives when its truth sinks into our souls. What can be better than a “good” and “perfect” gift from a God who never changes? And 2 Corinthians 9:11 teaches that we are “enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”

I once saw a sign that read, “Enjoy the little things, for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.” Throughout my life, I have occasionally perceived unexpected blessings; but when I determined to seek them actively, I discovered there is no end to God’s blessings. I realized He showered me with the gifts of ordinary provisions every day, and my heart expanded in gratitude.

I began to seek and appreciate little things that I would miss if they were gone. I thought of meals with my husband and how I loved starting the day drinking coffee across the table from him.

Several years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent treatment. My cancer experience taught me the importance of little things. Ordinarily, when would I ever stop to thank the Lord for eyelashes, eyebrows, and hair? I did so when chemotherapy claimed them.

Common things like grocery shopping, taking long walks, and exerting physical energy were marvelous blessings I had enjoyed all my life without so much as a “thank you” to God. Why was it only when something was taken from me that I realized its value?

I began to seek and appreciate little things that I would miss if they were gone. I thought of meals with my husband and how I loved starting the day drinking coffee across the table from him. Suddenly, spending breakfast time together became priceless.

I found opportunities to praise God for abilities I had taken for granted all my life. Laughing, walking, running, singing, praying, loving, giving, and even weeping were all gifts from God. Other things like a good night’s sleep, the ocean situated only two blocks from my home, conversations with my sisters and my children over the phone, and time spent with friends around my table became glorious treasures. Everything turned into an opportunity to give thanks to God.

Prior to cancer, all these things seemed little to me. They’re not little anymore. Like Brian’s glasses, Kevin’s Velcro shoes, and vacuum trucks at the ballpark, God’s provisions became good and perfect gifts; and they were all significant. I learned that what people seek they usually find, and I wanted to seek and find the goodness of God everywhere.

A Grateful Heart
The Lord promises believers amazing gifts in Psalm 103. He showers us with forgiveness, healing, and redemption (vv. 2–4). He crowns us with lovingkindness and satisfies us with good things (vv. 4–5). He is merciful, gracious, and slow to anger (v. 8).

Jesus the Messiah’s perfect sacrifice redeems us from our sin, not “with corruptible things, like silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18–19). Our hearts should be so full of praise and thanksgiving to the Savior that our gratitude pours out in obedience and holy living (vv. 13–16)—not because we have to, but because we get to.

Appreciation brings delight. It gladdens the heart and results in joy for both the giver and receiver. How wonderful it is that believers can bring joy and delight to God, the great Giver: “For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; let them sing aloud on their beds” (Ps. 149:4–5).

The depth of His mercy is incalculable. He loved us when we were still His enemies (Rom. 5:8, 10). He is so good to us that He even teaches us how to respond to His blessings: “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15), and “by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15).

Gratitude—not only for things like eyeglasses, sneakers, and vacuum trucks—is one of the great blessings of the Christian life. It beautifies the giver and the receiver with incomparably more glorious rewards from God. He promises His children salvation from sin and equips us with everything we need to live godly lives.

Let our prayer echo Psalm 63:3–4: “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live.” Let us always rejoice in the goodness of God.

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