A Month of Gratitude

I read a short devotion for October 21st in a daily devotional published by The Upper Room that got me to thinking about the subject of being thankful in all circumstances as the Apostle Paul encourages us to do in I Thessalonians 5:16-18. While the entire devotion isn’t available to read online, you can listen to it at this link.

The devotion titled, Overcoming Despair,” by Amy Graham describes a situation where one year in particular, 2016, was filled with several life-changing events for both her and her husband, the most painful being that they both lost their fathers that year, and they were grief-stricken. Her husband is a pastor who served in leadership roles and he continued to work, but she wrote that she felt alone, angry, and stuck in her grief, and she found it hard to go to God in prayer during this time. As she states in her devotion:

One day, I decided I had to do something to break myself out of this pattern. I sat quietly and simply said, “Thank you, God.” The next day, I thanked God again. With each new day, my time with God grew longer, as did my list of thanks and praise. Each time I expressed gratitude to God, I felt like light was breaking through the darkness that surrounded me. As my spirit of thanksgiving grew, God’s light overcame my despair. (Quote source: The Upper Room, September-October 2022, p. 62; listen to the complete devotion at this link.)

Reading her devotion reminded me of how often I don’t start off my morning prayer (I pray silently before I get out of bed in the morning) with thanking God for all he is doing (after all, he runs the entire universe) instead of going right into any requests or other stuff that is on my mind. While I am not going through a season of grief and despair as the author above wrote, I do sometimes wonder what I’m supposed to be doing at this stage in my life, especially in light of the past dozen plus years that took me in a totally different direction then I ever thought I’d be going in. My feelings are more along the line of perplexity and trying to figure out just what exactly these past dozen years have been all about especially in light of trying to move forward from this point on. Moving forward to what exactly?

After reading that devotion ten days ago, I decided to start my morning prayer (while still in bed) with “Thank you, God,” and focus on Him and not just on my own perplexity about this time in my life. My motto for the past dozen years has been to just take each day as it comes as any future I had hoped for was blown out of the water several year ago. So it’s been sort of like “Lord, here I am… now what?” on a daily basis.

Back in the fall of 2008 when I was working at that job that I lost in April 2009, I started keeping a daily journal of my devotional time that I had first thing in the morning before I went to work each day, and I kept it up after I lost that job in April 2009 and during the following two or three years while I was looking for full time work.

One day I came home to discover a bunch of pages had been ripped out of my journal while I was gone for a few hours from my small furnished apartment in the upstairs of an old house that was mostly vacant except for one other small apartment that was occupied beneath mine. After that discovery, I stopped writing in my journal since it was obvious what I wrote was no longer private, and my apartment was obviously not as secure as I thought it was (but that’s another story altogether).

When I read that devotion mentioned above a few days ago, I thought about starting another journal and writing down any reflections I might have from my morning devotional time. I thought if I had some of my observations from my devotional time written down on paper that it might give me some clarity and direction I should be pursuing at this time. However, I recalled what happened the last time I tried keeping a journal, and I decided not to put anything down on paper again.

What I have come to learn since 2009 is that in our tech-savvy world there really is very little privacy anymore, even in the confines of wherever we are living (whether in a private home or apartment or any other type of housing). Our technology has eyes and ears we never had to worry about in the past, and not only that, it can locate us (as in our exact location) anywhere we are via our smartphones and other techie devices.

I’ve also learned a lot about our world over the past dozen years that I had no clue about, and some of what I have learned can take one’s breath away. I used to think it was the stuff of science fiction, but advances in technology have made it far more science and far less fiction (see article published in 2021 titled, Databit x Databit, We’re Building Our Own Electronic Concentration Camp,” and a second article published in 2014 titled,Life in the Electronic Concentration Camp: The Many Ways That You Are Being Tracked and Controlled,” by John W. Whitehead, Constitutional attorney, and Founder and President of The Rutherford Institute).

As a Christian, I believe there is absolutely nothing going on in this world, and that includes anywhere in this world with it vast array of technological wonders, and it’s lack of privacy, that God is not fully aware of. In fact, Hebrews 4:12-13 states:

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

I will state that I’m not against technology. In fact, I love it! If I had only been younger when PC’s first came out and when the internet first arrived on the scene for public consumption in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I would have much rather earned a college degree in Information Technology or Computer Science. That’s how much I love technology. But like everything else, it can be used for both good and for evil (and I described some of the evil above).

So, as I think and pray about what I’m supposed to be doing with my life going forward, I would love for some aspect of technology to be a part of it, but I have no clue what that looks like other then I’ve been publishing blog posts on this blog since I first started it back in 2010, and I now have over 800 blog posts published on my two blogs (over 700 posts on this blog and over 100 posts on my second blog). And I do thank God for my love and fascination with all things techie, but I’m also behind in keeping up with it since I haven’t been part of the workforce since 2009.

So, back to the devotion I really related to above when I read it several days ago. While the author was trying to “overcome despair,” I’m trying to “overcome perplexity,” as I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, and I don’t know why it has to keep going on and on without any resolution. So like her, I’ve decided I need to break out of this pattern and to sit quietly and thank God daily, and what better timing for me to do this then during the month of Thanksgiving (November) which started today–a month of gratitude.

So, if you are perhaps in need of overcoming some type of anxiety that you’ve prayed about for a long time but still with no resolution, why not join me in a month of saying “Thank you, God” at the start of every morning with praise and gratitude, and leave the rest with him regarding the situation you are seeking some kind of resolution for. After all, He knows us better then we know ourselves (see Psalm 139).

I’ll end this post with the last two verses in Psalm 139 (vv. 23-24): Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me…

And lead me . . .

In the way . . .

Everlasting . . . .

YouTube Video: “Heart of the Father” by Ryan Ellis:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here