31 Days of Gratitude

I’ve been planning to blog this past week, but haven’t thought of a topic to write. But as I’ve often been reminded, when you don’t know what to do, just start something. That’s what I did and to be honest I didn’t think of a topic until I was half way completed.

This weekend I went home. It was a joyous occasion coming home to be a part of the beautiful wedding of my cousin, Beth with her handsome husband, Maddy.

But through the smiles and joy of the weekend, my heart was also heavy due to two losses this same weekend. Friday night and Saturday morning I found out of two friends who lost their lives in separate accidents. I wasn’t close friends with either individual, but the surprise of their death struck home. I had spent time with both of these young men in the past couple months and was shocked to hear the news.

Coming home this weekend also brought back vivid memories of coming home last year after another tragedy. Today, September 28, will forever be remembered in countless memories as the day this world lost a great person, Cole Bailey. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing one year ago as I received the phone call and heard the news. The shock, disbelief, and grief was overwhelming.

As I sit and reflect on these three great men that were lost and remembered this weekend, I’m thankful. My heart is heavy, but I’m not filled with sorrow; I’m filled with gratitude. I’m grateful that I had the privilege to meet Thomas Ashley this summer, hear his passion for the Lord, share similar struggles we both have faced, and see Him thrive where God put him.

I’m thankful that just before leaving for Moody I got the chance to longboard with Ryan Day and see him one last time. His love for life and his friends was clearly evident in that short time and I’m grateful I had the chance to make another memory with him.

I’m thankful for the many years I had with Cole Bailey. He was truly a special person. The fact that a smile comes to my face every time I think about him says a lot. I’m grateful for the Bible study we had together for six years and for the many memories we made that I will forever cherish.

But above all, I’m grateful for the promise of life after death. Death is an indescribably painful reality. But the promise of Christ’s resurrection gives us hope that those that who don’t believe can’t experience. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains that if it were not for Christ’s resurrection, our faith would be worthless (1 Corinthians 15:14, 17). But because Christ rose again, so those who have followed Him will rise again at His second coming. This gives us hope beyond the grave. I’m grateful that Cole, Thomas, and Ryan all had accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior and I have the hope of seeing them again. With this hope those of us remembering their lives can cry out, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55) knowing that Christ has conquered the grave and so has Cole, Thomas, and Ryan.

I’m reminded often how blessed I am and how unutterably ungrateful I am. Maybe you can relate with that as well. If so, or if you simply want to be reminded more frequently of your blessings, I’d like you to accept a challenge that I’m going to do myself.

During the month of October, I’m going to think of a new thing I am grateful for each day. Each day I will thank God for that blessing and will do something to show my gratitude. Some days it might be writing a note to a loved one, sending a quick message to a friend, posting a verse that God reminded me of, or something totally different. Each day I will be find something new and will thank God for the new days blessing and each blessing from the days before, also. So on the first day I will thank God for one thing and on the 31st day I will thank God for 31 blessings.

This is a simple way to be reminded of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and blessings in my life and I hope to be encouraged and refreshed as I think back on just 31 of the innumerable blessings God has given me. I’d encourage anyone to do this with me. Do it with a friend, your spouse, or a family member and share each day what you are thankful for with someone. I promise it will enhance your gratitude and keep your mind set not on the negative petty problems of your life but will focus them on God, His provision, and His people.

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