Another Thanksgiving has rolled around, and so has the time to stop and consider all the “good and perfect gifts” God had so graciously given each of us. But this year let’s not glibly say a memorized “Thank you,” nor half-heartedly show our seasonal appreciation with a long and flowery prayer before the traditional turkey meal. No, let this year be different. For gratitude is more than mere appreciation for good things; it is a divine perspective that causes us to rejoice in the good and bad, the happy and the sad, the lovely and the unlovely. It is the ability and wisdom to see through Heaven’s eyes at the good that has come because of what appeared to be, at first, evil. You see, it’s simply a matter of perspective.
A thankful heart is not inherited, stumbled across, or accidentally discovered. It is cultivated and developed. Like a rich garden that brings forth precious and sweet fruit, a thankful heart is first tilled and tended to before it produces an attitude of gratitude. Though this is no easy task, it is a vital one if we are to truly understand the essence of thankfulness.
To the untrained eye, what may appear to be a tragedy could actually be a blessing. When you were denied that promotion at work, perhaps you weren’t aware that it also meant a transfer. When your girlfriend told you she preferred not to date anymore, was God was moving her aside so he could introduce you to someone even better suited for you? Or just maybe it’s not so bad after all that you weren’t able to buy that house. You know, the one you really wanted but would have forced you to scrape and pinch every month just to get by financially. God may have a more affordable house—and a better buy—just waiting for you. You see, it’s simply a matter of perspective.
Whatever the case, I’m personally convinced gratefulness is also about spotting the blessing of the hidden things in life, not just the apparent ones. And I don’t mean only material things. Nor do I mean simply forgotten things. I mean the things that at first seemed unfair, unjust, and hurtful. It’s these that require a second glance. And with that glance you may possibly see through the outer layer of your trial at the blessing within. Sounds crazy, I know. But try it. You might be surprised how many blessings you discover that before now simply went unnoticed. You see, it’s simply a matter of perspective.
What must I do to gain perspective? I must focus my vision and wipe away the dust from my spiritual glasses; clear my perspective and concentrate on the blessings God has bestowed upon us. But not as years before. This time, look for the blessings hidden behind the burdens, the joys disguised as trials, the happiness discreetly tucked away inside one of your hurts. After all, doesn’t the meaning of Thanksgiving go deeper than the surface? Since the Latin root of thankfulness is thinkfulness, let’s put this word into practice, mentally searching for the secret blessings. You see, it’s a matter of perspective.
Frankly, developing perspective is like walking through a pasture full of green, beautiful grass lying like carpet on the ground. We could behold the beauty and color of it, or the unsightly and frequent piles of cattle waste—manure—could blind us to it. Both are in the field; both are in your view. How you see it depends on which gets your attention.
How’s your field looking? What’s your pasture like? You see, it’s simply a matter of perspective.
*Excerpted from Meditations of a Young Minister
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