Grateful

What does it mean to be grateful? Two of the definitions provided by Merriam-Webster are, to be appreciative of benefits received and express gratitude. If these definitions are correct, (and who am I to challenge this source?), it appears that to be grateful requires at least three things: the first is the recognition that I am the recipient of benefits; the second is that I appreciate the benefits; and, the third, is that I express gratitude. 

The psalmist-king David, who existed long before the creators of the Merriam-Webster dictionary drew breath, clearly understood these truths about being grateful. In Psalm 103:1-2, he exults,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:”

He then goes on to list the benefits he has received from God (as we have)//
“Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:4-5, NKJV).

And what he mentions is clearly not an exhaustive list. In Psalm 68:19-20 (NKJV), he declares,
“Blessed be the Lord,
Who daily loads us with benefits,
The God of our salvation! Selah
Our God is the God of salvation;
And to God the Lord belong escapes from death.”

So I ask myself, “Am I grateful?” “Do I really recognize that I am the recipient of daily benefits from God, or is there some part of me that believes that I have earned what I have?” “Do I appreciate the benefits God has given or am I ungrateful for what I have based on my belief that I do not have all that I think I need, want or deserve?” “Do I consistently express gratitude to God or do I complain and grumble more that I give thanks?”

What about you?

I am joining (on a Sunday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Grateful.” The content after the // was added after the allotted five minutes expired.

Grief

Grief has a taste and a smell,
and a touch.
It is an ache and a sense of helplessness,
bewilderment about what is
and uncertainty about what will be
in the absence of who and what was.
Grief can be a weight,
an anchor that immobilizes.

Grief has a sound:
sometimes it is silence,
at other times a wail,
a whimper,
a cadence,
like that of soldiers’ boots
marching in sync across our days.
Grief can be a dance of unfamiliar steps
where, before, harmony existed.

Grief unveils our common humanity
but can be an isolating experience.
Yet there is One,
spoken of by the prophet Isaiah,
as A Man of Sorrow,
acquainted with grief.
He knows grief intimately
and is close to those who are grieving.
He knows and He is near.
Always near.

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Grief.”

Ahead

“What lies ahead?”
When it comes to human experiences, no one knows for sure.
Engagements can be broken and weddings cancelled.
Marriages that began with hope, love, and passion
can end before the first wedding anniversary or after the 30th.
Jobs that seemed to have so much possibility
could end in unexpected termination.
A patient could come through a complicated surgery successfully
and die during recovery because of an unrelated infection.
A day that began with a brilliant sunrise could end in a fierce storm.
A few words spoke thoughtlessly could inflict a deep wound
that takes months or even years to heal.
A conversation with a stranger
could lead to a life-long friendship.
One idea could become a multi-million business.
One blog post could provide encouragement to a discouraged soul.

What lies ahead?
When it comes to human experiences,
no human knows for sure.
But the omnipotent, omnipresent,
omniscient God and Father knows.
And has promised sufficient grace,
and added strength,
and comfort,
and above all,
His abiding presence,
and an eternal home.

I am joining (on a Sunday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Ahead.” The song, “Already There,” is encouraging to me and I wanted to share it.

See also the Lord

I am familiar with the symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack because of the nature of my work. But I had never personally experienced anything close to either one. Until this morning. I felt a sudden jolt of anxiety accompanied by tightness in my chest.  Thankfully, I was able to recognize and acknowledge what I was feeling, reminded myself to breathe, reminded myself of God’s sovereignty, and, at some point, began singing,”Be still my soul,” a hymn learned decades ago. Through a Google search, I found a version of the song, by Kari Jobe. I played it on repeat between clients while working from home during the morning. After arriving at work for the afternoon, I created a playlist on Spotify with Jobe’s version and other songs.

This night before the 2020 US elections, aware that there are many who feel anxious, afraid, even terrified,  I wanted to share Kari Jobe’s version of, “Be still my soul” and the link to a blog post, “Breathe,” published in October 2020. I also wanted to share a lesson learned from the sermon, “The year I saw,” that Tauren Wells preached this past summer. The sermon was based on verses from Isaiah 6. Here is verse one, “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (KJV; emphasis added). Wells exhorted that, whatever else we see, may we also see the Lord exalted and seated on His throne. 

This night before the 2020 elections (or whenever you read this post), whatever the results of the election, may we also see the Lord, “sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.” He is sovereign and always will be. Earthly rulers will change but He is always the Sovereign Lord. Breathe. Pray. Praise. Worship. Be still. We have the ability to choose where we focus our thoughts, where we focus our attention. At all times but especially in times of uncertainty, we must ground ourselves in who He is.

Prayer: Sovereign Lord, help us to keep choosing to focus our thoughts on You. Again and again and again. As often as it takes. You have promised, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” (Isaiah 26:3, MEV).

disappoint

There are people,
things,
situations,
outcomes
that disappoint us.

And when it comes,
disappointment can droop the shoulders,
wilt the spirit,
dim our vision to the good and the beauty in front of us,
make it difficult to hear the melodies being sung.

What we need when disappointment comes is truth and the memory of it.
The truth that we have experienced disappointment before,
were given grace to keep going,
and will be given the grace
to walk through the current disappointment also.

The truth that we never face disappointment alone;
the God of hope is always with us
and because He is,
disappointment can be the seed that bears fruit
in our lives and the lives of others
that exceeds anything we could have imagined.

The truth that God is still worthy of our praise
no matter what.
And we can trust Him.

I am joining the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Disappoint.”

hold

You are trying to hold your world together
while you yourself
seem to be hanging on
by a thread.

The knot you made at the end of your rope
has started to unravel
and you honestly do not know
how much more you can take.

Take a deep breath.
Exhale.
And take another.
Right now that is what is needed.

Breathe in.
Hold for a few seconds
then slowly exhale.

Let go of the tension you have been holding
in your shoulders, your neck.
The world will not fall apart
while you take a moment to breathe.

And when you breathe in this time,
remember,
God is holding you.

When you exhale,
remember,
He has never let you go.
His grip is firm.
His hold is sure.

You can let go of what you cannot control.
Let the tears come.
He is still the God of all comfort.
His plan for you and those you love is still good.

In the midst of all the change
He is I AM.
Sovereign.

Photo by TUBARONES PHOTOGRAPHY on Pexels.com

I am joining (on a Monday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here or here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Hold.” The song, “Whole Heart,” by Hillsong UNITED encourages me and I wanted to share it.

Help

The Helpers”

In your family and circle of friends,
in your community,
you are known as one of the helpers.

You can be counted on to be one of the first who offers to help.
You are dependable also.
If you said you will help, you do.
Your word is your bond, not matter the cost.

But what do you do when you need help?
Who do the helpers turn to?

Some helpers are notorious for not asking for help,
for reasons such as “not wanting to be a bother.”
And so they struggle alone with their challenges,
While continuing to give out.

A word of caution,
a gentle but firm reminder to you helpers who follow this pattern,
you cannot keep pouring without being replenished.
Ask for help.
Allow others the privilege and the blessing of helping you.

breathe

“Breathe”

When the air is smoke filled,
your eyes may water
and you may feel as if you are coughing up a lung,
but you still have to breathe.

When you step out in the winter day
and the cold is a shock
that seems to steal your breath,
you still have to breathe.

We have to breathe in all circumstances.
We have to breathe to keep living.
We have to breathe.

But too often we do not pay attention to how we breathe.
especially when anxious,
which is when we need to breathe,
deep and slow
and exhale. 

And what helps us breathe well is how we ground ourselves,
where we plant our feet,
and where we rest our gaze –
on ourselves, 
on others, 
on circumstances, 
or on the One who is sovereign over all? 

Your

When you think of possessions and people who matter to you,
what pronouns do you use?
Mine or variations of it?

Similarly, when you refer to what others have and the people who matter to them,
what pronouns do you use?
Yours or variations of it?
As in, “Is she your daughter?
Is this your car?”

The pronouns we use indicate possession.
Ownership.
But the reality is that we are not owners but stewards.
Nothing is ours.

Everything and everyone belongs to God.
He is the Giver of all good gifts,
including the breath in our lungs.
All is His.

I am joining (on a Saturday) the Five Minute Friday writing community, hosted by Kate Motaung, for our weekly writing adventure. Please click here to learn about Five Minute Friday. This week’s prompt is, “Your.”

God’s Love

If God’s love was a chair,
how would you sit?
Gingerly? 
Or would you trust the full weight of all you are to it,
certain that you would be upheld?

If God’s love was a chair
would you take a shower or a long bath before you took a seat?
Or would you come as you are,
in need of cleansing,
with the scent and stain of your mistakes,
and curl up in the chair,
knowing that you are fully accepted as you are and beloved?

How you would sit
reveals how much you understand
and believe about His love,
not only for the world…
for you.

We all need
an ever deepening understanding
of our Father’s love,
an ever maturing knowledge, 
for God’s love banishes fear.

(c) E. W. Wright 2020