A few years ago, on a family vacation, I went swimming in these waters on the Na Pali Coast of Kuaui, Hawaii. Looking at this picture now is a bittersweet experience. Bitter because, with my health limitations, I will probably not swim again in deep water. But sweet too, amazingly sweet! I was actually in that ocean, with the fish, connected to all the oceans of the world! God’s good creation is all around us. I thank God for the flowers around our house that seem to keep blooming inordinately.
I’m also thankful that I lived long enough to hear the God-given musical creativity of The Violet Burning. Just to have heard some music or read some books makes living worth the challenges it also brings. And some people live their lives so creatively that I can only say “what a blessing to see”! I’m thinking of this text that we looked at in session this week: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Phil. 4:8, NRSV). To be open and alert to the wonder of it all is an avenue into thanksgiving, the appropriate response to all of God’s good gifts. Of course, the wonder of God’s gift of the Son to be the sacrifice for our sins is overwhelming. Health, wisdom, friends, family, growth in Christ-likeness, the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit come to mind. At our best, ‘the attitude of gratitude’ is the spirit, in the DNA, of Divine Savior Church.
Paul exhorts believers to “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18, NRSV) As we face needs and challenges in our moment of history, I am struck by the word of the Lord: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Phil. 4:6, NRSV, emphasis added) It seems to me that placing prayer alongside thanksgiving is significant. Thanksgiving for what God has done, wonder at his works and power, thanksgiving for how he will keep his promises strengthens my faith. And the reverse is true also: lack of wonder, gratitude and thankfulness, narrows my vision and weakens my faith. So wonder, awe and gratitude is a wonderful medicine for almost anything that might ail us.