I wait for my morning coffee to finish brewing as I open the large blind in my living room picture window. I look past my cozy front porch to the horizon. The dawn greets me with brilliant shades of pink and purple wisps. God’s glory breaks through.
What is it about a sunrise that captures my soul each day? It’s newness. It’s life. The darkness is pushed back, and God is simply showing off for me. I hear Papa whisper, “I’m here. I’m with you. I hold this day and everything that will happen. I’ll never leave you.” All I can do is say, “Thank You, God.”
I capture the sunrise image on my gratitude list as a reminder of God’s faithful presence. I make a habit of recording my thanks so my vision of God remains focused and pure, untainted by the cares of this world.
Gratitude doesn’t deny our hard places; it simply reorients our hearts to the greatness of God. Parenting breaks us and cuts us to the core, especially when our children struggle in their relationships, health, or their connection with God. We worry endlessly, hands thrown to heaven. We wonder why God isn’t moving. Frustration and bitterness rise to the surface. In our pain, we sometimes turn from God.
Gratitude is all about shifting gaze from self to God. We get it wrong when we think we have nothing to be thankful for each day. We mix up the order and think, “Well, if my life with my children was going well, I, too, could be thankful.”
Scoffers often struggle with gratitude. Grumbling and wallowing are easy. It’s part of the human condition to focus on self, not to have the capacity to see beyond the here and now, to see with eyes of faith. But I am confident a thankful heart sees more clearly and receives the healing touch of God.
Gratitude teaches us to notice God. It softens our hearts and opens our eyes to God’s goodness all around. Gratitude helps us find God in the middle of our muck.
To practice gratitude, we slow down and become aware of beautiful things. When we see beauty, we see God. We see God in nature, in the smiles of our loved ones, in the smell of a good cup of coffee, in the inspired Word of God, in the light as it hits the wood floor, in the hug of a friend, in the kind words of a stranger.
As we narrow in and notice, God expands. Our focus on Him makes our troubles shrink back. We don’t deny hardship, we simply elevate the greatness of God in the midst of it. As we notice, we welcome a fresh perspective–God’s perspective.
Peace, joy, and delight are a matter of focus. They are the fruit of looking to God. As we turn to God, our cares become smaller while He becomes greater. Our vision is focused on seeing God.
There’s power in recording what we see. It makes our gratitude more tangible and believable. It’s a reminder to continue to keep our eyes focused on God, to rise above the cares of the world, and to truly see Him. The list reminds us of His involvement in our days. He is near. He is right here. We often suffer from spiritual amnesia when our hearts hurt for our children. As we return to our gratitude list each day, we experience the faithfulness of God. We remember His goodness.
There’s no denying parenting is often heartbreaking, but seeking gratitude buoys our spirits, helps us be in tune with God’s presence, and teaches us to rehearse His faithfulness.