Cultivating a Grateful Heart


How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

1-IMG_5294-002One challenge in writing about hospital experiences is respecting the privacy of the other people involved – most notably the person who is sick and who didn’t want to be in the hospital in the first place.

This week the patient has been my father, David. Wednesday turned into one of those walk-in-clinic visits that evolved into, “Do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars, go directly to the E.R.” The E.R. visit led to being admitted. Then being admitted led to overnight, then a second night… and then night three. It’s been disappointing and discouraging for dad, and we are praying hard that we will see enough progress to come home sometime today.


Driving to and from hospital…

For me, this has been a clear reminder that I really can’t pull all-nighters anymore in my sixties, let alone two in a row. But I wasn’t about to have my dad wake up in the middle of the night and find himself alone in an unfamiliar place. And wake up he did – often, so I am thankful I was there.

That was an interesting phrase to use, come to think about it. I just wrote that, “I am thankful I was there.”

Being Grateful:

What I mean, I guess, is that a large part of living a grateful life is taking responsibility, rather than waiting around for something to happen that might “make me” thankful. In other words, part of cultivating a thankful spirit is putting ourselves in the position where – even though we are the ones doing whatever good thing happens – we still acknowledge the relationship of all goodness, all rightness, everything that is redemptive, to God.

This is an important concept. It is too easy for us to limit our gratitude to the idea that God only acts “on” us, from outside of us, to do something we find helpful. What is more theologically correct – I believe – is understanding that our own rightness is an extension of God’s goodness. We do not act independent of God, but we act – when we are at our best – in partnership.

What blessing really involves:

I always like to park on the roof

This is part of the more general theory of salvation as I understand it, where salvation is best understood as joining in with God’s work, getting on board with God’s initiatives. One false theology suggests that we are “blessed” when God gives us what we want – but the truth is that we must join God’s plan, God’s agenda, God’s action, God’s ongoing redemptive work.

I am asking that God will heal my dad, and make him whole. But – and this is important – I am already blessed, and I am already grateful – DEREK


6 thoughts on “Cultivating a Grateful Heart

  1. Colleen Forristall

    A similar thing happened to my 91 y.o. Dad 2 wks ago. Thankfully he’s home & a change in meds helped his situation. Prayers for your dad & mother, you & your whole family as well as my Dad. I’m grateful for your messages – great comfort at times & reminders of who we are & what’s important. With love and light,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – I appreciate this post so much. I was “there” over a five year period with both parents as they slowly declined. After they were separated within their nursing facility, my visits entailed going back and forth, trying to attend to each one’s individual needs, and bringing them together whenever possible. It was physically and emotionally draining, but somehow I was grateful after each visit for the bright spots in our day—for the precious tender moments that now exist only in my memory and my journal. It must be God’s mercy that helps us see goodness at difficult times. All my best to your father and to you.

    Liked by 1 person

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