The Power of Gratitude: Part 1

I love hiking. Something about being outdoors and witnessing the beauty of creation lifts my spirit. Yes, even if it’s in frigid cold of Midwest winter when my crazy friend visiting from Chicago says “Let’s go for a walk.” During those moments I’m the happiest. Very unlike the beginning of this month when in contrast I felt… well… kind of bitter. 

My funding deadline to leave in March was a only a few days away. It was pretty unlikely I’d be leaving based on our original plan. The overall frustration made every little irritation felt like someone adding one more brick on my shoulders when I was already carrying a boulder. Luckily, rather than sit and fester I told myself: “Come on Steven, be ‘positive’.”

No luck. All my silver linings were drab grey. Trying to spin the near future in a “positive” light felt fake and unrealistic.

Well...When in doubt, what does scripture say?

 “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you.” ~ Philippians 4:8

Was there a way my mind could dwell on good thoughts without being unrealistically chipper? 

Then I thought about one line from a sermon I recently heard. “How do I avoid becoming arrogant?” a man asked. 

“Gratitude,” responded the pastor. The statement wasn’t even the purpose of the sermon, but the word rang in my head. I’ve heard it said some people look at life like a glass half full, while others look at life like a glass half empty. I assumed the phrase meant some people are hopeful, while others are pessimistic but what if instead of thinking what could be they looked at life as what already is?

You won’t find a scripture in the Bible saying “Be positive,” but you can find dozens of verses talking about thankfulness. I have a lot to be grateful for.

 Loving parents who enjoy having me home, great hometown friends with deepening relationships, opportunities to serve in my home community while I prepare for France, plus my nephews and niece who are way cuter than all the other toddlers (just saying). 

Okay, okay, seriously though: Maybe true positivity isn't putting a "positive spin" on our lives. Maybe it's acknowledging all God's provided for us when we're too nearsighted with our own life plan and impatient to wait for God to reveal His. What if the person looking at the glass half full appreciated what is rather than what was missing? If faith brings hope about what is yet to come, maybe gratitude gives us peace about where we already are.