“He knew without a doubt that miracles took place all the time, and that every one – without exception – was from the hand of God…There were big ones. There were small ones….He wondered what the world would be like if people would just stop and take the time to look at everything they were given every day of their lives and be thankful – to offer thanks and try to realize where their personal miracles were coming from, and give credit to where it was rightfully due.” (William Sirls, The Reason)
I started studying the Gospels a few years ago, and every time I come away with something more. My favorite passage in all the Gospels is this: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21: 24-25, NIV).
For anyone who has faced any sort of trial, the above passage offers hope. For those who struggle with watching a loved one (or themselves) suffering from a disease or chronic illness, face financial hardship, employment challenges, or having just reached the end and don’t know how to “fix things,” they’re given peace that Jesus performed many miracles of healing, redemption, and restoration while He walked the Earth. We can go one step further because, since He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, He is capable and loving enough to perform miracles of that magnitude still today.
As wonderful as huge miracles are (and they are), those aren’t the blessings I’m talking about today. Instead, I want to choose to see the miracles in the everyday. For most of my life, I would’ve described myself as positive, hopeful, and happy. However, when it came to seeing blessings in my everyday life, especially when life started to become more difficult, I needed help. Through a variety of people, God introduced me to the concept of a blessings journal. It took a couple false starts, but for the last year and a half I’ve been writing in it every day. What a difference it’s made in my outlook on life.
Some days the best I can say thank You to God for is the beautiful sunrise or sunset. Sometimes, on particularly hard days, all I can muster up is, “Thank You that today is OVER!” However, most of the time I end up filling full pages of all of the blessings He has provided in one day. I have healthy children (especially after our third round with the stomach flu this year), a husband who encourages me to sleep in after an especially busy week, and the same husband who overlooks the messy house so that I can sleep in without feeling extra guilt. Other times it’s a free book from an unknown or well-loved author or enough money to cover the food we need and the ability to learn self control since we don’t have it in our budget to buy all the food we think we want. Or last month, thanking God that He knew what our expenses were and even though I spent many late nights working, I have peace because all the bills will be paid on time and it was He that supplied the work, the time, and the energy for us to pay them.
When I shift my focus from one of expecting good things to happen in this life to one of gratitude when they do (not taking even the little things for granted), it changes my whole perspective. Rain which prevents me from hanging clothes on the line to dry is thought of as a blessing for watering our vegetables without using the electricity to run the hose. A traffic delay or late start somewhere becomes a way for me to thank God for the possible prevention of a horrible accident or putting me in the path of someone who needed encouragement and a kind word.
You can ask my family – Even though looking for God’s blessings has become a good habit in my life, I still have to actively choose every day to be on the lookout. It doesn’t always come automatically. I still have to intentionally choose the blessings some days. However, overall, I’m a more peaceful person now than I was almost two years ago. I know that God is the One who blesses me every day and He gets the credit for all good things in my life.
My fatter than usual paycheck? God. Looming deadlines, a house that needs to be cleaned and laundry that needs to be washed, as well as a garden that needs tending and lawn that needs mowed? Yup, still God. Providing blessings in the arenas of work, provisions, and abundance to share with others.
What are some blessings in your life, big or small, that you might have overlooked or taken for granted? Even if you start out small, I’m pretty sure it pleases God’s heart when we give credit where credit is due – His provisions, His safety, and Him choosing to bless us with colors, smells, tastes, and sights that leave us breathless. When we open our eyes to the littler blessings on a daily basis, it makes it easier to see the bigger miracles for what they truly are – extraordinary gifts from our loving Father.
© Cheri Swalwell 2014