From time to time we change the doxology we use in our worship services. We are currently singing the hymn, “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow.” These words call us to praise God for the many rewards and riches we have received. The call is to live as individuals receiving gratitude. The apostle Paul writes words that might have inspired this musical piece. In Colossians 1:11-12 he writes, “May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father . . .” (NRSV)

In this passage from Colossians, Paul urges the early church to give thanks even when it is hard to do so. He knows the importance of having a grateful heart. Paul further knows that gratitude must be learned, exercised, and repeated. The apostle might even suggest that if our thanksgiving is solid and sustained, three levels should be lifted up.

First, Paul might suggest we give thanks for the “apparent.” Some things are so commonplace that we often fail to recognize them. These are the day to day blessings like a smile, a handshake, pleasant weather, good health, and the presence of family and friends.

Second, Paul might suggest we give thanks for the “abstruse.” Treasures are sometimes hard to understand and blessings go unnoticed. Specific happenings get overlooked. While in prison during World War II, German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, would express gratitude for his dreams. He would say, “I never knew before what source of pleasure they can be.”

Finally, the apostle would probably say that we need to give thanks for “agony.”  This is the ultimate mark of our thanksgiving. We can express gratitude when we have experienced hurt or pain. Many years ago I heard popular pastor and writer, Rob Bell, speak at an event in Des Moines. He said that, “moments of crisis and suffering can cause us to rethink everything essential. In effect, they allow us to create ourselves anew.” Bell suggested seeds of creativity come in unlikely ways.

As we move into the summer months, might we learn from Paul and so many others! Might we make strides to become grateful in all we do!

Peace & blessings, Scott