Gratitude in Hard Times

It might seem as if things have got out of hand in the world right now. People are crying out for healing, for peace, and for freedom from the overwhelming pandemic that’s been flooding over most nations. I know it’s hard, but there are many things for which I can still be thankful. Here’s a small list I compiled this week: I can hear the birdsong. I see daffodils blooming, their bright trumpets reminding me of heavenly music. Our camellias provide me with picking flowers for the house, and the perfume from the daphne bush brings back memories of my father who planted one when I was a child because he knew I loved it.

I can’t go shopping for new socks for my husband, but I do have wool and a needle to darn the holes which his toenails have bored through the toes! We’re again in lockdown, but we have a computer, an e-reader and a telephone to keep in touch with the outside world. Our garden provides us with fresh vegetables, and weeding to keep us fit! I’m able to go for a walk, and offer a smile or say ‘hello’ to people I pass. And Maurie and I have each other! Millions of people lack these things and more, but I’m glad for what I have.

Last Sunday, after our online church service, we ‘virtually’ met with some other members and shared our blessings. The pastor said he’d received an email from some Christians in Africa. They’d heard things were going badly in our city because of a worrying spike in COVID-19 cases here. That email was sent about 2 am African time. They were awake and praying for us! How blessed we felt!

Earlier, I was thinking of what happened in Noah’s time once he was safe on dry ground after being stuck on the ark during the flood. He hadn’t known how long his family’s isolation would last, but when he was eventually free to walk around on the earth, he sacrificed a clean offering in thanks to God, who absolutely loved its beautiful aroma.

When I checked the story again in Genesis, I found that God had said something to himself at that time; something that’s still a promise for us.

The Lord smelled the soothing aroma; and the Lord said to Himself, ‘I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done’ ~ Genesis 8:21 – New American Standard Bible.

In most English translations of the Bible, this passage is identical, saying that God was pleased with the aroma. But I like the word ‘soothing’ in this version. I think it’s really nice to know that God was soothed. Perhaps Noah was also soothed by the aroma of the burning sacrifice he offered to God. The giver is usually blessed in the giving.

And with this promise, we’re also blessed. We can recall it when we need comfort. God didn’t only say it to bless himself; he also said it for our benefit. A blessing is sometimes called a ‘godsend’. He made that promise for our well-being – so we could prosper, thrive and flourish. Even in drought, natural or spiritual, he watches over us and keeps his word.

Maybe we all feel we’re in hard times right now, but God’s promises are eternal. No matter what happens, he’s faithful. His blessings are greater than any hardships we might experience, and my heart overflows with gratitude to him.

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