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Applying Mercy

(i) Cultivating the Gratitude Attitude

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:18).

Who do we appreciate spending time with? The grateful! These are the ones who bubble over with the love of the Lord, and are always most willing to extend a hand of help and a heart of mercy. By contrast the meanly calculating are far more concerned with their own self interests.

Certain foods need sweetening to avoid being bitter to the taste. This corresponds in spiritual terms to gratitude. May it sweeten those areas in our lives which the Lord – and no doubt others(!) – identify that we are most in need of.

One of the simplest ways we have discovered to cultivate such a heart of gratitude is to pause towards the end of the day and deliberately ponder at least five precious things that have happened in the course of it and to give thanks for them.

For the most part, we are not speaking primarily here of major life-changing events but of simple things it is entirely right and proper precious to appreciate. Just a few moments of reflection will help us to find much cause to recognise the goodness of God at work. Rather than looking on the events of the day just as so many tasks that we have ticked off on our ‘to-do list’, it is precious to take time to thank the Lord for them, along with all the blessings that He regularly sends our way, and the special blessings He may have sent that day.

At least for a period of time, why not get into the habit of jotting down these acts of grace and mercy in diary form? You will hopefully be amazed and encouraged by just how many blessings the Lord has directed your way. You will also enjoy looking back on them later on!

I want to celebrate not only the momentous and soaring things You do, Lord, but also the delightful little steering touches by which You lead and direct us in the course of the day. You love to sanctify the ordinary and to allow the truly extraordinary to spring so naturally from it.

Thank You for the precious things by which You mark our path each day; threads of grace within the day’s events, and signs and whispers of Your presence along my path; sufficient food and drink, a hug received, an affirming word, worthwhile encounters with people, spiritual truths learnt or reaffirmed, troublesome things resolved: lost things found, misunderstandings cleared up, creative things begun, progress made. . . creative projects begun or progress made on them . . . thank You most of all for Your care for us; the attention to detail You show us every step of the way.

Father God, I want to record with thankfulness the mercy You have shown me today. Thank You for all the goodness with which You have compassed me about: for the noble things, the pure things, the lovely things, the admirable things. . . With pen or tablet in hand I choose now to focus on the excellent and praiseworthy things with which You have surrounded me with. May the thoughts of my heart and the words of my mouth line up more and more with Your heart. And as this spirit of thanksgiving flows through my heart, may You come ever deeper, even reaching out to embrace that which is less lovely. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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