You take a deep breath of air filled with a gentle floral fragrance as you watch the sun set in brilliant colors, reflected by a few graceful clouds, and the stars begin to appear. Pause! You probably don’t realize how many delicate wonders are packed into that one brief scene. The first incredible thing about this scene is that you exist! Our own existence is something we generally take for granted, but we really shouldn’t because you wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for many other details in this simple scene.
The second amazing thing is that you breathe. This is the breath of life – your every heartbeat depends on it, whether waking or sleeping, running or resting. The breath of life comes only from God, but it’s a blessing we rarely remember to thank Him for, and instead, frequently use to rebel against Him.
“And the LORD God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” ~ Genesis 1:7
And that floral fragrance you smell as you breathe? That comes from the plants around you. Those plants are using sunlight to make their own food, through photosynthesis, which actually puts the oxygen we need to breathe into the air (not to mention the fine-tuning of our senses or complexity and beauty in the existing plant life). How often do you thank God for the plants He created? Personally, I know I’m not as grateful for trees as I should be (I really don’t like pine trees – they make me sneeze!)
Above your existence and through the air you breathe, notice those clouds and the atmosphere they float in as part of your sunset. The atmosphere and clouds work together to keep us from getting too hot during the day or too cold during the night (more about those clouds here). Without them, life as we know it would not be possible. The final important detail about this scene is the stars that we can see through our amazing, transparent atmosphere. But just a transparent atmosphere is not enough to let us see the stars – we can see them because we are positioned just right in the Milky Way galaxy. Either being closer to the center or farther out toward the edge of our galaxy would be a huge threat to our existence.
We have all been given so very many blessings, regardless of our material gifts, where on our unique planet we live, or even who we have with us to love. But, many people will look at all the bad things happening in our world and the tragedies that break our hearts, and wonder how the loving and omnipotent God of the Bible could allow such terrible things to happen. I too, have said to myself, “are these God’s ‘tender mercies’?” But the question should not be “why would God allow these bad things to happen” as much as “why has God given us a second chance to live?” Maybe we don’t deserve to suffer in the specific ways we do, but we really don’t deserve to be here at all, and we certainly don’t deserve to live in such a stunningly beautiful, fine-tuned universe! It’s by God’s gracious, tender mercies that He is allowing us to live in this sin-cursed (though still remarkably beautiful!) world long enough to come to Him and be redeemed. We truly all do have a lot to be thankful for!
Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, 2014. Used with permission