Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating Gratitude

Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, who has put such a thing as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem Ezra 7:27

Ezra is writing a a great moment in Jewish history, a good time for God’s people, a time of restoration, a time when the king of another people shows God (and His people) some respect. They are permitted to rebuild the temple, they have what they need. It is a good day!

If this happened now, or to a smaller man than Ezra we might expect some boasting such as, “how good are we that God is caring for us like this,” or “Praise the king, what a great guy he is.”

Instead, we see praise for God.

Instead, we see gratitude for unseen hands.

Instead, we witness acceptance of the one who orchestrates all things.

This posture of gratitude is noteworthy to me in part because I personally struggle to be as thankful as I should be for all the good elements in my life, and in part because I know I am not alone in this. I notice this posture of gratitude in the story because I want to have it.

Ezra wasn’t just born an optimist, he doesn’t just come naturally to having a grateful heart. We are told, “Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). He had prepared for this moment and his preparation gave him eyes to see the hand of God at work in his life and in the life of his people. It gave him the ability to boldly declare that hand at work before others—those who may have though differently or at least pretended to as they played a game of political pandering—to declare the truth he knows: God is sovereign and it is right to give him thanks and praise.

Cultivating this sense of awe and wonder regarding God, the eyes to see him at work, is an on-going and intentional process. Talking about God’s work is difficult for many of us.  My prayer for you and for me is that we would be able to recognize his hand at work and declare what we see, that we would cease the opportunities to talk of God at work in our lives when they present themselves. 

A simple practice for all of us: replying, “yes, God is good isn’t he” when we hear something that sounds like God at work. Maybe we can even do this once a day. It is simple but imagine the impact on our lives if we could foster that posture of gratitude and the ways we may help others to better understand the God we worship, if only we put into practice such simple phrase. 

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