The spiritual disciplines of acceptance and gratitude are easy to practice when all is going well—when the sun is shining and our relationships are fulfilling, when work is going great and the sermon on Sunday touched our hearts. But when all is not well, discontent can rear its ugly head. All of a sudden we’re no longer satisfied with our appearance, our friendships, our lives. When we’re suffering, acceptance and gratitude can seem impossible.
This series of posts will follow my inward thoughts as I go through the book Acceptance & Gratitude chapter by chapter working through the ideas listed above.
To my happy surprise, today begins my first day with the section on gratitude in Acceptance & Gratitude. What made it an even happier surprise was when the Bible study told me that today I will be reading and focusing on Psalm 136. As a sensitive writer and artist whose heart often does the leading, the Psalms bring me great joy. David often captures in his beautiful poetry the feelings that I have on a daily basis.
As I read through Psalm 136, I was touched by how the author gives all the glory to God for both big and small moments of daily life. “Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—…the sun to rule the day,” the Psalm exclaims (136:7-8). While we see the sun nearly every day of our lives, I treasure how the author took the time to praise God for the magnificent star that breathes life into this tiny, distant planet. More often than not, the sun gets taken for granted despite the vital role it plays in sustaining life and bringing joy and light into our lives every day!
Contrastingly, shortly following that stanza the author writes, “Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea…. He led Israel safely through… but he hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea” (136:13-15). This was such a momentous and unforgettable moment for Israel. In no way was this experience a small moment for the Israelites. Yet in the grand scheme of things, this moment could be washed away like a seashell by the ocean. By dwelling on this specific moment in history, the author is giving God the glory for his blessings both large and tiny.
Chapter 1 explains, “Train your mind to remember regularly to tell yourself to praise the Lord…. Doing so will help you remember the small things you’ve misplaced and also the great and wonderous good things God has shown and given you” (50). This passage opened my eyes to a new idea I wish to put into practice: Constantly talking to and praising God, so that I will see both the small and big things given to me by God as I go about my daily life. Too often I get caught up in a small moment—a woman shoving me aside to get on the bus before me; looking in the fridge to find some of my food partially eaten by someone else; accidentally spilling my soda—and forget the big picture blessings that the Lord rains down on me every day.
By constantly talking to and praising God, I can keep my head on a little straighter and remember that the little annoying things in my daily life really don’t compare to the little joyful gifts he leaves scattered for me to find as I go about my everyday life.