From the Pastor….
Dennis was down on his luck. First, he was injured, and then he got sick and had to cancel a long awaited trip. Feeling anxious over the poor state of his body, in addition to his illness and annoyed by his family members. Dennis, consumed in his black cloud, almost canceled his weekly ministry of visiting the local nursing home but instead he forced himself to go. He felt awful when he began reaching out to the first broken-down senior who approached him. And then, by the end of that first encounter, Dennis felt refreshed. Filled with gratitude, his symptoms vanished during his time of ministry.
Gratitude and thankfulness does not come easily, especially when we are caught in the grip of anxiety or worry. Nor does gratitude come in a sudden conversion. It comes through a slow turning away from worry by intentionally stopping to find something, anything, for which to thank God. In the worry, it can be a real struggle. Jesus understood this. Take something simple ad common, Jesus says, for which to give thanks: a bird, a flower, a blade of grass. Anything will do: a breath of air, a dog’s loyalty, a glass of cold water. It is the small step of moving out of self to notice something or someone beyond yourself that matters.
This small step leads to huge results. It leads to finally getting what Jesus is trying to tell us: everything is God’s, and God is eagerly waiting to give us more and more- if only we would allow it. Jesus wants us to notice what is in front of us, to believe that God is present and to be thankful. Change the subject, Jesus says. There is a lot of stuff in life we are powerless to change, but changing the subject is always in our power.
By adopting gratitude, we can discover God’s abundance. It’s a funny thing, but gratitude takes math out of the equation. When gratitude replaces anxiety, even when we find we have less than we had during our worry days, gratitude reveals that we have far more than we need.
“Look at the birds of the air, consider the lilies of the field,” Jesus says. He wasn’t being idealistic; he was being practical. Medical science has shown that by not worrying, we can add to our life span. We don’t have to worry about our lives day to day- what we are going to eat or drink or wear. Nor do we have to worry about our children’s needs. All we have to do is say, “thank you,” knowing that what needs to happen will, and the rest is not all that important. Gratitude is the secret. (see Matthew 6:25-34).
Pastor Gary Nelson