Expressing Gratitude With Every Breath
According to a Pew study from a couple of years ago, 78 percent of people said they felt strongly thankful at least once a week. The same study also revealed that most of us are more anxious, less hopeful, and more distrustful than ever.
And that was before COVID.
Clearly, there's a disconnect here. Diana Butler Bass believes it comes down to the fact that as individuals we value gratitude as a virtue, and we strive to express it in our own lives. But as a society, we are becoming less and less thankful. The same gratitude we feel individually is not making that much of a difference in our common life.
Check out this bit of amazingness from Psalm 8:
3 When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; 4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
"What is man, O God, that you are mindful of him..."
You are small. You are dust. You are only here for a breath of time. And all it takes is a glance into the sky at night to be reminded of just how crazy-awesome-wonderful that all of Creation is, and how tiny, insignificant, and not-that-awesome you seem to be.
Except you aren't... tiny and insignificant. To God.
"For you have made human beings just a little lower than the angels, and crowned them with glory and honor..."
To God you are amazing. To God, you are God's best creation. To God, you are the very thing that God, the creator, and sustainer of all of that awesomeness that I related to you a moment ago, has decided to imbed with his very DNA. You are a co-creator, a shining composition of stardust and spirit that was put in charge of reflecting God's glory to the world.
What do you have to say... to that?
"Thank you," might be a place to start.
All of the beauty in this world, all of those moments that feel divine they have a name. YHWH. The unmentionable, unknowable name of God in Hebrew. It is thought by some ancient rabbis that the name of God is described thus in the Hebrew alphabet because it sounds like a breath. YHWH. When you breathe in, YHWH, when you breathe out YHWH.
The psalmist says that the name of God is praised by infants. This is puzzling on the surface, but not if you understand what he meant.
The psalmist is expressing that every human sound, every breath is a response to the universal reign of God. When you draw your first breath, you speak the name of God, and for all the days of your life from that moment. And when you draw your last breath you speak the name of God until life has left you and you are finally with God.
When you finally realize it... when you finally realize just how deeply and truly that the Creator of the universe loves you... when you finally begin to get just how interested God is in you... when you finally realize that the God whose name you speak each time you draw breath has exalted you, lifted you up, and desires nothing more than your joy and fulfillment... when you finally see that this same God gave everything, suffered everything, took on everything to save you...
The only thing you can possibly say---or should I saw whisper... is Thank You.
May you be filled with gratitude today and every day forward---gratitude that is expressed in every breath, felt in every moment. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.