I hovered over a neighbor’s flower — a Mexican bird of paradise — reveling in the brilliant orange, yellow and red blooms and the curvature of the petals that give this unique desert flower its name. “Oh, thank You, God, for eyes to see,” I breathed for perhaps the thousandth time.
What would make me so exuberant about a neighbor’s flower? After spending more than 50 years labeled as legally blind, I underwent a routine surgery that unexpectedly doubled the vision in one of my eyes.
Now I’m seeing the world in ways I have never seen it before. I’m infatuated with an incredibly designed creation. I’m grateful for this heaven-sent gift that has allowed me to gain sight when I feared I would lose it all.
I wonder if the blind beggar whom Jesus healed felt that way, too. When he heard Jesus was walking past him, he called out in a loud voice for Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus stopped and asked what he wanted. “Lord, I want to see,” the beggar said (Luke 18:41b). Jesus restored his sight, and the man followed him, praising God. (See Luke 18:35-43.) Can you imagine his gratitude and joy, the glint in his newly healed eyes?
We all appreciate something to a greater extent when we’ve had to do without it. We’re far more grateful for electricity and water after a storm has cut power for several days. The ease of inhaling a breath of air is so wonderful after recovery from a respiratory infection.
Yet 1 Thessalonians 5:18 directs us to be thankful in all circumstances, whether for newfound delights, once-in-a-lifetime deliverance or restoration, or blessings woven into everyday life: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Far more than a perfunctory thank-you, our gratitude can become a joyful overflow of praise and delight for what God does for us. How can we capture that kind of gratitude even for the ordinary moments of life?
My gift of new sight has taught me to look with intentionality for ways to thank God for His good gifts. Here’s the three-step process I’ve used to retain that joy-laced sense of gratitude.
Pause in the middle of your day. Survey your surroundings. What do you see, hear or feel? What is happening around you? If your mind fills with things that you don’t have, turn it around and look at what you do have. Leftovers for dinner? You have food. A messy home? You have an abundance, whether of family or stuff, to make messes.
Ponder what you discover. Focus on one aspect of creation and marvel at the intricate details. For example, think about the recipe for a sunset: the ingredients of light, color, vapor and energy all mixed together in perfect proportion, changing second by second, and completely different each evening. What does that sunset tell you about the character of God?
Praise God for the new details you see. Your praise shows that you recognize creation’s existence isn’t coincidental; it had to come from somewhere. Joyous gratitude appreciates the Giver as well as the gift and overflows with the realization that God has such interest in you and love for you that He chooses to give you such abundance.
Let your gratitude leap to a new level of spontaneous joy. Get excited about what others would call “ordinary.” As you look at the things of life like you’ve never seen them before, you’ll see a God who has the infinite capacity and desire to give you all good things.
Oh, Lord, the earth is filled with Your glory. Help me see my life and Your world with greater clarity so my thankfulness for what You do will bubble over with spontaneous joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 66:1-5, “Shout for joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious. Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing the praises of your name.’ Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind!” (NIV)
Psalm 65:8, “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.” (NIV)
What part of creation makes you break out in spontaneous joy and gratitude? What has God returned to you that causes you to have a deeper appreciation for His good gifts?