When life goes topsy-turvy and something familiar become unfamiliar, it's easy to lose focus on just about everything. The issue at hand becomes paramount, and we develop a sort of tunnel vision that is nearly impossible to break. We must refocus. We must cast our gaze elsewhere, look upon something different, something greater.
This is what gratitude in the midst of trial does for us.
In her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, Ann Voskamp writes, "Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant—a seed—this plants the giant miracle."
And so I thank God for sun falling through slats in the blinds. For the laughter of children. For delicious dinners and hot tea. For the encouraging words of friends. For colors. For the smell of a new book. For a blue sky speckled with clouds. For hooded sweatshirts. The longer I spend looking, the longer the list gets. These are the seemingly insignificant things.
Then the miracle comes -- the giant miracle in which I am able to thank Him for things like hurt and sadness. For things like pain and trial. For things like conviction and boldness. And in this giant miracle, in this gratitude for blessings I cannot yet see, I can know a promising truth:
"For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed." -Hebrews 12:11-13 (ESV, emphasis mine)
|a journal of gratitude|
And so I write down these things. I list them in a book. I look at them. I stare at the pages until I am reminded of promise. I stare at a list of little things, things I would miss were I not looking; and somewhat magically, as if by miracle, I realize gratitude for the big things, the hard things, the good things.
My wasteland, my despair, my wilderness -- they become as a lush garden, with joy and gladness, thanksgiving and song.
"For the LORD comforts Zion;
he comforts all her waste places
and makes her wilderness like Eden,
her desert like the garden of the Lord;
joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the voice of song." -Isaiah 51:3 (ESV)