Staying Thankful in the Storm…

The weather was chilly and windy as we watched the sun set over Lake Champlain, a large freshwater lake with shores that stretch from Vermont—where we were—into New York and Quebec, Canada.

     During our New England vacation in October 2019, many days were stormy. As I said in my last post, I realized early on I needed to choose my attitude about the less-than-ideal weather conditions. Was I going to be grumpy or grateful? An ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ begins with a decision.

     The first time I learned about the power of thankfulness to literally change brain chemistry was at a conference several years ago in Seattle, Washington. The event was designed to assist participants learn ways to help victims of violent crimes. One presenter told the large crowd about a significant research project.

     Individual brain scans were done on a group of people dealing with mild to moderate clinical depression. One segment was prescribed an anti-depressant medication; the other was instructed to write down each day five different things for which they were thankful.

     Follow-up brain scans showed the act of documenting thanksgiving was as effective as medication! (Caution: Always consult with your physician before altering medications.)

     Even though God wasn’t highlighted in this presentation, I listened with amazement, thinking how marvelous it is when modern science confirms the truth of ancient words of Scripture. The Bible makes references to thanks around 100 times.

     As I looked at our recent vacation photos, I recalled times when my preoccupation with difficult life circumstances prevented me from seeing the beauty of God’s love.

     There have even been times when I’ve doubted God’s goodness and questioned whether God hears my prayers or even cares about my personal storm. These musings cause me to wonder.

How often have I missed seeing God’s grace because I was so focused on menacing conditions or my unmet expectations?

How many times has my grumbling been so loud that I’ve been unable to accept the Spirit’s willingness to still the clamor in my soul?

A boat firmly anchored during the storm on Lake Champlain.

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning, an English poet from the Victorian era, describes poignantly how we often relinquish the holy for the mundane.

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;[1]
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

     As I pondered a prayer to conclude today’s post, my mind returned to the words of this simple, yet profound childhood prayer:

Thank you for the world so sweet;
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing.
Thank you, GOD, for EVERYTHING!

Stowe, Vermont

During this month of Thanksgiving, I pray we will see the beauty of God’s love, and thank God no matter what…

Sue Reeve

  1. See story of burning bush in Exodus 3

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