By Annie Yorty, Crosswalk.com
I have a friend who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis. Sometimes she experiences a common symptom of MS—blindness. Often, it attacks the optic nerve suddenly, immediately disorienting and disabling her. Thankfully, when the exacerbation ends, her vision bounces back, though one day, it might not. I also have MS. I'm grateful I haven't experienced blindness like my friend, but I've often displayed another type of vision impairment.
I admit I've become blind to the goodness of God. Sometimes sheer busyness blocks appreciation for my heavenly Father. Other times, discouragement clouds my view. Worse, sin severs my optic nerve's sensitivity to God.
Gratitude Overcomes Blindness
The antidote to such blindness is gratitude. The Bible contains well over one hundred references to thanksgiving.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. (Psalm 100:3-4 NLT)
Consequence of Refusing to Give Thanks
God doesn't command us to give thanks to Him because He's egotistical or narcissistic. No, He tells us to live gratefully because dire consequences result from forgetting that we do not originate any goodness.
Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. (Romans 1:21 NLT)
I know God is good—in theory. But I grow forgetful of the specifics when I fail to give thanks intentionally. I need reminders. How about you? Every day, God graciously provides exactly what we need.
The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day, they continue to speak; night after night, they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. (Psalm 19:1-4 NLT)
9 Visible Reminders of God from the Bible
Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. (Deuteronomy 32:2 NLT)
Rain refreshes the earth and promotes growth. In fact, it sustains life. God's Word falls into our lives like refreshing showers that nourish our spirits. Whether gentle or raging, rain reminds us to thank God for giving us His Word in the flesh—Jesus, and His written Word—the Bible.
Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24 NLT)
Seeds remind us of the miraculous power of God to resurrect. Technically dead, they sprout new life under the right conditions. When we see seedlings poking out of the dirt toward the sun, we thank God for our life in Christ after being dead in our sins. No one is beyond His power to save. We persevere in faith to see the fruitful outcome of God's salvation.
"Come now, let's settle this," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool. (Isaiah 1:18 NLT)
Fresh snow blankets everything in its path. Even a heap of rusted junk becomes charming when adorned with sparkling icy flakes. A walk in the snow reminds us that Christ's sacrifice covers our sins with His purity. We are grateful for the grace that makes us righteous before God.
Photo credit: ©SWN
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? (Matthew 6:28-30 NLT)
Have you ever seen a daisy painting itself bright pink or yellow? Of course not! These happy flowers simply wave in the breeze, basking in the sun's warmth. Jesus said we could learn about God's care and provision from them. Let them stimulate gratitude for a heavenly Father who knows our needs better than we know ourselves. He provides abundantly.
No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2 NLT)
Lighthouses are usually built on rocky outcroppings along the most dangerous parts of the shoreline. Waves crash and pound against the rocks, but the houses stand firm in the elements. Wherever we observe solid rock in nature, we can appreciate the foundation of Jesus for our lives that never moves under the shifting tide of our fallen world.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)
Eagles soar effortlessly and peacefully in the heavens above the fray of life below. God designed their wings with feathers to catch air currents and allow them to stay aloft without flapping. A glimpse of an eagle prompts gratitude for His strength that also upholds you.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)
How often do you eat fruit? Every time you see grapes, bananas, watermelons, and other produce, thank God for producing a beautiful array of fruit in your life. When you yield to His Spirit dwelling inside, your life will naturally exhibit the produce of His sweet character.
When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth. (Genesis 9:16 NLT)
We all catch our breath at the sudden appearance of a prism of multicolored light stretching across the sky. God's gift, which usually manifests during rain showers across a backdrop of angry clouds, reminds us to praise Him for always keeping His promise to withhold judgment from those who choose to follow Him and from the earth itself. We are thankful for the abundant mercy given to us as we wait for Jesus to return to us again.
The sun rises at one end of the heavens and follows its course to the other end. Nothing can hide from its heat. (Psalm 19:6 NLT)
God designed our planet with a heat source set at precisely the proper distance to support life. Without its light and energy, the earth would be uninhabitable. Light and heat beams from above to touch every dark and cold corner of the world. In the same way, nothing escapes the notice or reach of omniscient God. We give thanks that the light of His healing truth can reach into the deepest, darkest recesses of our lives to restore life.
Consequences of Ingratitude
The remainder of the first chapter of Romans warns that persistent lack of thankfulness leads to rejection of God, descent into evil, and, ultimately, death.
God knows our human tendency to take Him for granted and to fail to appreciate His blessings. That's why He intentionally designed the natural world to speak without words about His character. When I've grown blind to the goodness of God, I'm thankful for ample visible reminders in nature to renew gratitude.
I've named only a few of God's marvelous works. What parts of nature revive gratitude in you?
Annie Yorty uses her writing and speaking to encourage others to perceive God’s person, presence, provision, and purpose in the unexpected twists and turns of life. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she mothers a teen, two adult children (one with intellectual disabilities), and a furry beast labradoodle. Please connect with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebook, and Instagram.