An Attitude of Gratitude

I have been the blessed recipient of some very gracious expressions of appreciation lately, none of which were deserved, but all of which are deeply appreciated. A friend sent a check in my honor to be used for something close to my heart at my church as a thank you for officiating her husband’s funeral. A thank you card for teaching a class in another church contained a gift of money that was totally unnecessary, and touched me deeply. My dog sitter left a mason jar of flowers with a Disney princess balloon in my living room to wish me a happy birthday. My cousin sent a flower arrangement that was so magnificent, I could hardly carry it up the stairs. All of these things caught me off guard and have truly humbled me. Expressions of kindness such as these can be like a long drink of water for a thirsty traveler. These folks will never know how much their gestures meant to me.

In our passage today, Isaiah writes a hymn of gratitude to God for his deliverance. He reminds us that God is our strength, our might, and our salvation:

Isaiah 12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the Lord God is my strength and my might;
    he has become my salvation.

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 

What a beautiful word-picture this presents! Drawing water from the wells of salvation is something God invites us to do every day. Are you thirsty? Do you need to be saved? Come, and drink.

And Isaiah reminds us that we should show God our deep appreciation for all that he has done for us:

And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord,
    call on his name;
make known his deeds among the nations;
    proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
    let this be known in all the earth.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,
    for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah believes that the Holy One of Israel deserves our praise and thankfulness. He also says that these expressions of thankfulness should be public. We are to make God’s deeds known in all the nations, and make his name known in all the earth. We are invited to shout aloud! In other words, share your testimony with someone. That is today’s challenge.

So the question is, what has God done for you lately? Make a list, and offer a gift of gratitude and witness in his name.

I thank my God for all of you today. Thank you for reading!

Thankful for Sunrise by Michelle Robertson

Wells of Salvation

I finally hugged my first non-family person this week. It came at the end of a surprise breakfast with my District Superintendent and his lovely wife. She is an incredible woman of faith and we sometimes tease him that he “married up.” He doesn’t mind this because he agrees.

We were discussing how life would feel now that we are all fully-vaccinated, and I mentioned that I think I have become “touch averse.” For over a year I restrained myself from hugging, shaking hands, touching a shoulder in a gesture of comfort, visiting the sick in a hospital and holding a hand, comforting the grieving with a gentle pat on the arm…the virus stole all of this from us and as a pastor who easily uses touch to convey concern and love, IT HAS BEEN HARD. All of you “huggers” feel this pain with me, I am sure!

This sweet woman listened with great empathy to my confession and then said, “You know, when you are with someone in a pastoral setting, you are clearly being the love to Jesus to them in that moment. And with that comes the power and protection of the Holy Spirit in everything you say to them and everything you do.” When breakfast was over, I hugged her. Happily.

This is exactly what I needed to hear as I make my way up from the dark hole of touch aversion back to the sunlight of normal behavior. She offered me a sip from the well of Christ’s salvation and I didn’t even know how parched I was. I will trust and not be afraid.

Isaiah 12 (New International Version)

Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
    from the wells of salvation.

My concern has not just myself, but also for those around me. My congregation is a delicate population for the most part, and as an international airline pilot’s wife, I have not wanted to give or receive any illnesses during this time. But the Lord has done a glorious thing, and the county where I live has received state-wide commendation for our vaccine implementation. And in all things, the Lord himself is my strength and my defense.

In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
    and proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
    let this be known to all the world.
Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

The time is almost upon us to return to those wells of salvation where we will hug each other and draw water together with joy. Soon it really will be over and we will sing once again to the Lord and let the world know what he has done. So as we approach the end of this terrible marathon we’ve all been running, let us safely press on toward the goal of living as those who are saved by the Lord.

We really are one day closer to the end of this thing! Thanks be to God.

Reflections of Joy by Debby Fox