The Journey is Beautiful: Practicing Gratitude

“It’s beautiful,” she said.  “The journey is beautiful.  I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The older woman with short white hair was sharing about how her husband died 20 years ago.

“It was the day after Thanksgiving.  He said, ‘I think I have indigestion,’  I said, ‘You probably do,’ and then he dropped dead.  It was that fast.  And while I miss him terribly, it has been a beautiful journey.”

We were talking about being thankful and creating opportunities for our families to practice gratitude while we’re on this journey of pain and loss.  As I sat there, I realized that not only was this wonderful woman modeling gratitude for me, but that it’s in the midst of brokenness that true gratitude springs.  I mean ask yourself this, “If everything was perfect all the time, would you be truly thankful?”  Or is it possible that facing difficulty in life makes us more grateful for the gifts, goodness and grace of God?

I think it’s the second.  Pain and suffering helps increase our gratitude IF (and this is a big “if”) we practice gratitude.

To help all of us practice thankfulness, I want to help us pray a psalm of thanksgiving.  The goal is to use the psalm as a structure for our prayer.  I will give you a focus for prayer and then you read a section of the psalm.  Then you’ll go the next prayer focus and then read the next section…and so on as we practice thanking God for his many gifts.  And maybe you’ll find with the older woman with white hair that “It’s beautiful..the journey is beautiful…”

Psalm 100 (VOICE)

Prayer focus: Praise the greatness of God, our Creator, Redeemer, and Shepherd.

Raise your voices;
make a beautiful noise to the Eternal, all the earth.
Serve the Eternal gladly;
enter into His presence singing songs of joy!

Know this: the Eternal One Himself is the True God.
He is the One who made us;
we have not made ourselves;
we are His people, like sheep grazing in His fields.

Prayer focus:  Give thanks to God for all His goodness, mercy and truth in your life.

Go through His gates, giving thanks;
walk through His courts, giving praise.
Offer Him your gratitude and praise His holy name.

Because the Eternal is good,
His loyal love and mercy will never end,
and His truth will last throughout all generations.

Now may you remember the many ways God has blessed you.  May you practice gratitude in the midst of pain.  And may you yet praise and thank Him.  Amen.

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