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On January 1, I awoke with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. So much so, I was moved to tears—just grateful for life and living, protection, how God had led my children into adulthood, the growth opportunities in my marriage and even for simple things like a sweet apple or oxygen.
I had never been one to be active on Facebook, especially daily. And, quite frankly when I did log on, I not only left the site feeling drained at the negative posts and other nonsensical comments. I felt that it stole my much-needed time. However, because Facebook is a popular instrument for information exchange and even social change, I decided to use it as a positive vehicle to post thoughtful expressions of gratitude—daily. I received more than I bargained for and learned a lot about God. I will share eight things I learned about God’s character with you today.
1. God is Good. Through daily posting, the saying, “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good,” became a testimony and not just a cliché. When I focused on gratitude and giving praise, I learned just how good God really is and His character became illuminated in a new way for me. When I focused my thoughts on being grateful rather than bemoaning what I didn’t have or what didn’t happen that I wanted to happen, I was grateful for God’s patience with me. When I focused on His goodness, it took my focus off of my circumstances. In the midst of tough life situations, I often remembered what I had posted that day and was immediately thrust into how complicated and harsh my life would actually be without that simple expression of gratitude that I had posted on that particular day. For instance, one day I posted how grateful I was for my lungs. I never really think about my lungs—but later on that day, I had an allergy attack and couldn’t breathe. I was reminded how absolutely perfectly God crafted our bodies. Yes, God is good.
2. God is Creative. Some of the things I expressed gratitude for were very simple. On one of the posts I wrote, “I’m grateful for garden-grown tomatoes.” Gardening and garden-grown vegetables are like love and I cherish the work as well as each bite. For me, a homegrown tomato is one of the most delicious and creative vegetables on the planet! As I sat in my own garden one day, a group of butterflies joined me. And, as I admired their beauty, I was reminded that no two are alike, in the entire world. Now, that’s just something! A butterfly’s wings are intricately and gently woven and the colors are spectacular albeit their wings are transparent! Who but God could craft something so incredible? His creativity is mind-blowing.
3. God is Sovereign. God was always in charge of the agenda. My responsibility was to show up and I realized very early that this assignment was indeed mine, but there was no way I could have come up with it by myself. When going through an extremely difficult health concern, I was encouraged to be surrounded by people who prayed, inspired me and sent scriptures about God’s sovereignty. At times my daily posts triggered others to think beyond their circumstances and focus on what they too were thankful for. There were days when I received a response to a post and the person said, “I really needed that,” or “This inspired me,” or “I’m so glad I’m not in control.” Psalm 24 (NIV) says, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
4. God is Love. One day I posted about how grateful I am for the earth perfectly rotating on its axis. If it were to speed up or slow down one nanosecond faster or slower, we would experience catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis. That’s the God that loves me! The thought that in all of history, and in all that has ever been created, the God that made the universe so perfectly, and who also made me, is just wonderful. But now, this is what the Lord says—He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name, you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1) I am HIS indeed, no matter what my past looks like, no matter how many times I’ve failed, the God who created a perfect universe says, “I AM HIS.” Now, that’s love.
5. God Demands Obedience. Posting every day is hard work. I was committed to it but I did become fatigued. I found numerous things that I was extremely grateful for but the actual writing and remembering to post proved cumbersome. The Holy Spirit reminded me that it was not about me. When you are committed to God’s work, it’s about Him. I learned quickly that God demands obedience and when we make a promise to Him, we have to deliver. I have to confess that when I began, I thought I was doing something really cool and others would appreciate the journey. But about 200 days into the actual “work,” I needed reminding that it was about God and His grace.
6. God is Grace. Focusing on gratitude allowed me to rethink the whole principle of God’s grace. Definition: Being given what we do not deserve. Each and every one of us should be able to think of at least 100 things we are grateful for. I consciously gave myself to the assignment and was absolutely floored by what we take for granted. For instance, who thinks about oxygen? But, what would happen if we didn’t have enough? On July 1 I expressed gratitude for my blood. Our bodies have about 6 quarts of blood and it circulates through our bodies 3 times every minute. In one day, the blood travels 12,000 miles. God gives us these wonders for our survival. He gives us an environment so that we can be healthy and thrive—that’s grace. Once I was engrossed in posting daily I came face-to-face with the enormity of life and how deeply God’s grace flows.
7. God is Immutable. God does not and cannot change. Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the Lord, I change not.” I missed maybe two days of posting, perhaps three, during the year. During a family crisis—my dad was in the hospital and I couldn’t get to it. However, one evening at 11:45 p.m., I looked at the clock and ran to my computer. I posted before midnight. I was excited and I thought to myself, someone might be blessed from hearing this. I had to get it done, no matter what. The larger issue for me was that I made a commitment to God and I didn’t want to let Him down. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” I kept thinking about God’s character: He cannot lie—that’s impossible. So, I kept going. As my family rallied around my parents during illnesses I needed to know beyond a doubt that my prayers were being heard. I was comforted by the promise of Jeremiah 33:3 (NIV) “Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which you know not.”
8. God is Faithful. God gives us more than 3,000 promises in the Bible. His Word speaks about “renewing your mind.” Romans 12:2 states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (NIV) I learned that when we take our minds off our circumstances and focus on God and what we are grateful for, He promises us that the results of such thinking will be peace.
My daily Facebook posts were varied from being grateful for the life and legacy of Dr. Dorothy I. Height, the opportunity to interview playwright Linda Parris Bailey, the art of great photographers, the right to vote, to being grateful about my spine. On November 18 my post articulated my gratitude for my coat protecting me from frigid temperatures. I was painfully reminded of working for the government in 1999 while in Washington D.C., and seeing homeless people sleeping on the street without coats while driving on Constitution Boulevard.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to focus on gratitude when life is tossing us and we’re in the middle of the storms. What I learned about God’s character during this incredible assignment of posting my gratefulness is that His promises are real. He is trustworthy, and His Word is absolute and true; He will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6). A position of gratitude keeps us focused on Who He Is; faithful, loving, unchangeable, and sovereign.
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Lisa Brown Ross’s career spans radio and television reporting, public relations and public affairs consulting, motivational speaking and leadership development. She is a wife, mother, prayer warrior, poet and “Chief Inspiration Officer” for LisaRossInspiration.com. She serves as President of the LJR Group, Inc. a Public Relations and Public Affairs Firm located in Irving, Texas.
Publication date: November 19, 2015