The Perfect Gratitude Trifecta – Perspective, People and a Promise: Part III
Today’s post marks our third in a series of three that focus on gratitude. We’ve learned about perspective and how what we look for shapes what we see, including all we have to be grateful for.
The people in our life, those from our past, and those from the present also affect our gratitude journey.
But we’ve saved the best for last, and it is a promise Jesus made. We find it in the book of Matthew.
“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20 NLT
This promise from Jesus is one many of us have heard but I wonder if any of us, myself included, grasp the singular truth imbedded in this promise––
WE ARE NEVER ALONE.
In the simplest sense, to be alone means that no one else is present. But loneliness is so much more than that.
Loneliness can mean isolation, remoteness, lack of connectedness. Loneliness can mean sadness for lack of company, family, or friends. A random draw of synonyms for loneliness is downright depressing:
Forsaken, Secluded, Forlorn Alienated.
Not a pretty list.
Thankfully, ugly adjectives only serve to make the promise shine brighter.
Jesus’s promise to never leave His disciples was part of His final promises before He ascended into heaven. He wanted to assure those closest to Him that they would not be alone. Of all the things could have said as parting words, He wanted them… He wanted us… to know we would never be alone.
In Max Lucado’s book You’re Never Alone, he chronicles the miracles from the book of John ––miracles designed to prove that God is near and that God cares.
Here’s an excerpt:
“John’s chosen miracles run the gamut from a wedding oversight to a violent execution, from empty bellies to empty dreams, from abandoned hopes to buried friends. All these events stand together as one voice, calling on [us] to lift [our] eyes, and open [our] hearts to the possibility –– indeed, the reality–– that the greatest force in the universe is One who means [us] well and brings [us] hope.”
Lucado continues, “Jesus touched wounds. He spoke words of hope. Lives were improved. Blessings were bestowed. There was a message in his miracles: “I am here. I care.”
Lucado shares that his book was “a child of the quarantine.” He wrote it during the pandemic. He observes that the pandemic exacerbated an already rampant epidemic of isolation. He goes on to share examples (studies) that prove how detrimental loneliness is. For example, one study stated that “loneliness is as dangerous to one’s health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day.”
God said it first and said it best––
“It is not good for man to be alone.”
Each of us has been created in God’s image. God himself is a God of community. The Trinity is a mystery of three persons in one. Even though that may be hard to understand, what is crystal clear is that you and I were not created to be alone.
Jesus’ promise wasn’t spoken as simple words of comfort. They were expressed as words of a covenant rooted in creation. The making of men and women who by design are not meant to be alone.
There are many attributes of King David we could appreciate, but I don’t know if there is one more inspiring than his humility. Repeatedly we find David confessing his absolute and utter need of God.
The other side of that coin is David’s consistent and complete confidence that His God was indeed with him. We hear this in Psalm 139:
“Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I lie down in the grave, you are there. If I rise with the sun in the east and settle in the west beyond the sea, even there you would guide me.” Psalm 139:7-10
If ever a man knew that he was never alone, it was David. David understood the omnipresence of God’s Spirit.
Before we close in prayer, I’d like to share several scriptures that remind us of just how near God is. Words that help us remember He is with us, He is for us, and because of Him, we are never, nor will we ever be alone.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” Psalm 46:1
“Am I not a God near at hand”—God’s Decree— “and not a God far off? Can anyone hide out in a corner where I can’t see him?” God’s Decree. “Am I not present everywhere, whether seen or unseen?” Jeremiah 23:23-24
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 15:9
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted. And saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly, And to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15
“I have set the Lord continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 16:8
“For the Lord, your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears.“ Zephaniah 3:17 NLT
Would you pray with me?
“Father, you are such a tender teacher. You give us time to figure things out. You’re patient when we don’t get it. You’re patient when we’re stubborn, and our rebellious nature doesn’t even want to get it. Thank you for being faithful.
We especially thank you for being so present… so near. Because of You, we are never, never alone. Please write these words on our hearts. Help us remember them when we need them most.
Thank you that a life of gratitude is ours to choose.
Help us choose well when it comes to our perspective.
Help us choose well when it comes to dealing with the people in our lives.
Finally, help us choose well by believing the promise that You are with us always.