We’re on week three of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. As we practice gratitude for this online Bible study, let me thank each of you for your continued participation. Be blessed! In this online Bible study, we are growing in wisdom and friendship.

During the week I was feeling frustrated. Instead of putting eyes on my disappointment, I pulled up my gratitude journal and started intentionally looking for good things. It was a great experience! My frustration turned into a blessing.

Ann Voskamp writes, “Life is so urgent that it necessitates living slow.” During the pandemic, many of us adapted to being sheltered at home. We did not get on busy freeways and wrestled to get to our jobs on time. There were no rushing kids to events and activities. For me, it seemed my turtle shell pace seems felt “normal” as I started living slowly.

Ingratitude and gratitude are opposites. So when I am ungrateful, I am busy making excuses for my misery. When I am thankful, I am observing the stillness of God and I experience a Psalm 23 peace. Yes, I can feel peace in a pandemic and a storm. But only when Christ is with me.

Ingratitude demands “notice me and my needs.” The transformed woman with Christ in me says “Notice God and walk with Jesus”

This week I learned to slow down. I started enjoying the sunlight of my garden, taking walks to the beach, and playing UNO with my husband and kids. Blissfully, I am playing Christian instrumental music and journaling.

Ann Voskamp writes, “I only notice because I am looking for this…I am a hunter of beauty.” If we are not looking for God’s gifts, what are we looking for instead? Sometimes people are hunting for the offense. They walk through life seeking reasons to be mad. It is a sad worldview.

As we study the Biblical view we learn to persevere, learn, and transform. The spiritual weapons of Satan are deceit, distraction, discouragement, and disappointment. Do you ever wonder how much free time you had “before facebook? Do you ever wonder how much free time you had “before the smartphone?” These are modern distractions.

You can be intentional to limit distractions. Take Facebook off your phone. Make it harder to access…. so you have to sit at the desk, on a computer. Otherwise, you are traveling through the social network… ALL THE TIME.

In my Zoom groups for the Bible Cafe, some of the women have shared the good things from the pandemic. This helped me see what I was not seeing… the daughter home from college, the neighbors making scones, the laughter as we bond together over TP shortages… these are the memories I want to treasure most.

It is easier to see the ugliness of the pandemic- the worldview lens. The Bible tells me to look for that narrow needle… not the easy view.

Matthew 19:24 New International Version (NIV) “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

In times of difficulty writing out Bible verses on a card is helpful. I would like to see a stack of Bible verse cards… “How I Survived a Pandemic and Shutdown” with verses of strength, hope, unity, and peace.

There are benefits and disadvantages to the Biblical lens. A benefit is seeing through the heart of God. A disadvantage is people misunderstanding or judging what you see and say. When the lens is cloudy, you start to live in a worldview. You adjust your lens to be LIKED or APPROVED by the world, the narratives, and the winning teams. And you miss the heart of God. The cloudy lens says you are entitled, you deserve, and you are a victim of life. So you make decisions based on this worldview.

How do we clean the lens of the heart?

Confession, repenting, giving thanks, and prayer. DAILY.

Not just crisis-only Christianity.

Christine Abraham writes for the Bible Cafe™ community. Learn about living by the Fruit of the Spirit as you enjoy her online Bible studies. Join Christine at the Bible Cafe™ University for weekly Bible teaching.