“Sing of the Ways of Our God”

Posted By Beckie Sweet on Jun 9, 2024 | 0 comments

June 9, 2024 ~ Third Sunday after Pentecost


We all have them.  Small knick-knacks, figurines, plaques, and the like, received as gifts, purchased as a souvenir, inherited from a family member.  My grandmother used to call then “dust collectors.”  Perhaps you have a shoe box on the shelf in your closet containing love letters, projects made by a child or grandchild before they could write their name.  Construction paper which over the years has become brittle and torn.  Why do we keep such things? They have little monetary value.  BUT the sentimental value may be challenging to quantify.

Rev. Emily Munger describes a small plaque displayed in her home which holds the story of an extraordinarily grateful woman, her grandmother Yvonne Fischer.  Emily long admired the way her grandma carried herself in this world.  Humble, joyful, interested in every single human she met, and exceedingly non-materialistic.  Yvonne had held onto everything lightly; everything but her faith.  She died of COVID in the Fall of 2020.  The family sorting through the few possessions which she had not yet given away when Emily found a small plaque that read: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”   Emily quickly recalled giving that to her grandmother when she was a child because that phrase so aptly described Yvonne.  “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”  Yvonne always had enough, and her spirit showed it.


The writer of Psalm 138 believed this, too.  It’s common for us to think that those who can easily praise God must possess all the blessings this world has to offer.  It’s common to think this, but it’s simply not true.  this Psalmist gives thanks for God’s steadfast love and faithfulness even after being displaced from Israel’s homeland and place of worship.  After years of oppression, the Psalmist affirms that God “gives me life” in the midst of the struggle, not after the struggle is over, and when all struggle is passed.  God gives life in the midst of the struggle.

Spiritual blessing comes when we recognize that what we have is enough!  And sometimes all we have is God’s love, God’s assurance, God’s deliverance.  When that can be enough, we live in gratitude for all the rest!

Friends, if we wait for life to be perfect before giving thanks, we’ll be miserable.  Deliverance from our pain is both a present reality and yet something that awaits fulfillment.  And it always will be, on this side of eternity!  So I ask you this: what is discouraging you today?  Are you willing to give God thanks in the midst of this all that is wrong in this life?  Or do you feel you must wait for life to look more perfect?

Over the years, Emily learned that her grandmother’s life was hard.  She lost pregnancies before birthing Emily’s father, who was an only child.  They lost their hog farm to disease and endured bankruptcy.  Emily’s grandfather struggled with addiction his whole life, before dying in his sixties.  And her grandmother was no stranger to cancer, among other health challenges.  Even so, Emily says, the truth is, she had never known a more content and grateful woman than her grandma.  Yvonne could laugh at herself all day; she could give and pray and spend her energy for the sake of others.  Above all, Yvonne was SO thankful for every breath she took.  Even in her final weeks, she spread cheer at the nursing home, playing piano and dancing until the week that she died.  Yvonne left this world, and each person she encountered, with joy, simply because she believed, “gratitude turns what you have into enough.”  That attitude is contagious.  Have you noticed that? Praising the God of our creation and provision, and expressing gratitude for life and its simplest pleasures, brings praise and gratitude to those we encounter.

If you’re the scientific type, here’s something to consider.  The act of gratitude, such as writing letters of thanks) actually changes us.  Look it up!  There are plenty of studies on it.  I sometimes go to the website “Greater Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life” out of Berkeley University.  The studies mention that our brain chemistry alters based on what we choose to think about.  A study by Joshua Brown and Joel Wong suggests that “gratitude letter-writing (for instance) produces better mental health by shifting one’s attention away from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy.  When one writes about how grateful we are to others and how much other people have blessed our lives, it might become considerably harder to ruminate on negative experiences.”

Yes, we can thank modern science and ancient Psalmists alike for this good news: Gratitude is a pathway to God’s grace, because gratitude make what we have, enough.


So, here’s your homework for this week:  Choose two people in your life that you’d like to thank.  Write them a note or call them saying what you are grateful for.  It is one of the simplest and most effective practices for spiritual and mental well-being. After you have completed that, express your feelings of gratitude in praise to God in whatever way you wish.

The practice of gratitude doesn’t only change us, it also changes those who witness or receive it.  Emily’s grandmother’s example of grateful living had a powerful and enhancing influence on Emily’s perspectives on faith and life.  Gratitude makes what we have enough, then we believe as the Psalmist, God will fulfill God’s purpose for me; for God’s steadfast love endures forever.  Thanks be to God for the gift of love that offers us all an opportunity for grateful living!

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *