A perspective of gratitude

Posted: Friday, October 17, 2008

I looked out the window and saw nothing but another dismal, cold, rainy day in Southeast Alaska. One of those days where I say "ugh," and don't want to leave the house.

My 6-year old son bounded into the living room and said, "Hey, Mom! The sun is out! You know Mom, I think that when you have a good heart, God lets the sun come out. I'm having a good heart and it's a good sunny day."


I admit the sky had brightened a little bit. And it was not raining as hard at that moment. But a good sunny day?

In his own youthful way, my son had just paraphrased Psalm 118:24, "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

I thank God for these precious moments of perspective from my son. He was practicing something my husband and I frequently preach; a thankful heart is a happy heart.

A thankful heart is not only happy, it is powerful. It can change your perspective from one of hopelessness to one of gratitude. Taking stock in the good in our lives gives us a solid foundation from which to face our struggles and turn our mountains into mole hills. A thankful heart helps us to want what we have.

Around our house we do our best to breathe a perspective of gratitude into everything we do. We give thanks for loved ones, good health, warm beds, and nourishing food (though for our boys it is easier to give thanks for macaroni and cheese than meatloaf). We also do the best we can to pay our blessings forward, so perhaps we can help another person discover the power of a thankful heart.

Unfortunately our best efforts to be thankful sometimes fall short. There are times when life's challenges obscure our clear view of our blessings. At those times, when a perspective of gratitude is difficult to find, we find comfort knowing God is still there for us. He declares to us in Jeremiah 29:11, "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Even during the most difficult times, this reassurance can help us see sunshine through the rain.

When we look at the world with a perspective of gratitude, we more clearly see that enough is as good as a feast. God wants us to enjoy the happiness, the fullness of life, that comes from having a thankful heart. The American playwright Thornton Wilder wrote, "We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures."

Let us be alive and let our lives be full. After all, all it takes is a good heart to have a good sunny day.

• Becky Corson is a member of Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.

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