Gratitude From A to Z: 26 Things God Didn't Have to Do...But Did Anyway! — Praying Christian Women (2023)

Sometimes I’m overcome with gratitude for something God absolutely didn’t have to do…but did, just because he loves us that much. I decided to sit down and compile an A-Z list of 26 of those kinds of things, in hopes that it will encourage you (and me!) today, and bring glory to our amazing, powerful, loving, ever-deserving-of-our-thanks-and-praise God.

A: Air. God didn’t have to give us air to breathe, or the feeling of a cool breeze on a hot day. He didn’t have to give us airborne fragrances like the smell of apple blossoms at the start of spring, or jasmine on a warm summer evening. Thank you God for air.

B: Babies. God could have created all of us at once out of the dust of the earth, or had us procreate by cleavage like cells, where we’d simply divide and another fully-formed human would result. But he gave us babies. Adorable, moldable, sparking joy in our hearts when we see them and smell them and hold them, even in the darkest of times. A beautiful picture of the way our spirit-lives were intended to be molded into the image of Christ. Thank you God for babies.

C: Colors. God could have created the world in shades of grey, but he chose color. Even his children come in all different shades and hues. Color brings joy and diversity to the world God has made. Thank you God for colors.

D: Dancing. Have you ever wondered why we dance? King David danced as an expression of love and worship to God. Some dance for joy, some dance to tell stories, and others dance as David did - purely to worship God. Thank you God for dancing.

E: Elephants. Elephants were my mother’s favorite animal. I love them too, especially when I see how intelligent and full of emotion they seem to be. And they look so other-worldly, don’t they? I believe elephants illustrate God’s creativity and majesty. He didn’t have to give Adam such a diverse group of creatures to care for, but he did. Thank you God for elephants.

F: Fruit. In Genesis 1, God gave Adam and Eve seed-bearing vegetation and trees with seed-bearing fruit for food. Fruit is sweet, colorful and pleasant to eat. God provided the Israelites with manna, which sustained them but got bland and tiresome after a while. He could have given us manna from the beginning, but instead he created a beautiful garden with diverse food that brought our taste buds pleasure - and still does. What a lavish act of love! Thank you God for fruit.

G: Games. The capacity and desire for play has been programmed into so many of God’s creatures, including humans. While some play seems to serve a purpose, like preparing lion cubs for their future job of pouncing on prey, some play is just for fun and enjoyment. God didn’t have to create us with the capacity to enjoy games, or with the ingenuity to create them...but he did. Thank you God for games.

H: Heaven. Where God resides is what we consider heaven, but our eternal hope as Christians is that death is only the beginning; we’re destined for eternal fellowship with God in heaven (Luke 23:43). God could have kept us separate forever, with physical death being the end of our existence. But he chose in his infinite love and mercy to provide a way for us to join him in heaven. Oh, thank you God for heaven!

I: Ideas. The brain God gave us is capable of so much. We are able to generate thoughts and ideas, to problem-solve, and to reflect the creative image of God. When we work together, we can help change our world and societies for the better, bringing glory to the King of Kings. Thank you God for ideas.

J: Joy. God has given us the keys to joy and life to the full, regardless of circumstance. We live in a fallen world, and it would have been possible for God to allow us to live the consequences of sin’s entry into the world without the gifts of hope and joy. But through the Holy Spirit, God has given us fruit, including joy, that allow us to navigate this life on a different plane (Galatians 5:22-23). When we are weakest, the joy of the Lord can be our source of strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Thank you God for joy.

K: Knowledge. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” - Romans 1:20 (NIV). God has revealed himself to us through his creation. He was gracious enough to give us the Word of God in the form of scripture and in the form of the Living Word himself, Jesus. But even without those things, anyone who is born on planet Earth has the benefit of the knowledge of God. He has placed a God-shaped hole in our hearts, a longing for the divine, and somehow an understanding that he is our Creator through the things he has made. Thank you God for knowledge.

L: Laughter. When was the last time you laughed? Think about how it made you feel. The stress and tension of the moment is washed away in the ripples of sound that come from deep inside. God didn’t have to create laughter, but he did. Genuine laughter is such a gift! Thank you God for laughter.

M: Music. There are references to music in heaven (Job 38:7, Ezekiel 28:13-16, Revelation 14:3), and God has given us the precious gift of music right here on earth. Whether it’s through playing instruments, singing or listening to music, it’s clear that music can provide a connection to God through worship. Music is also simply enjoyable. It relaxes us, relieves stress and is a way to express ourselves creatively and emotionally. Thank you God for music.

N: Northern Lights. To stand under the Northern Lights feels magical and other-worldly. You can almost hear them singing in the sky. In technical terms, they’re simply the collisions between electrically charged particles released from the sun with gases like oxygen and nitrogen. But we see them as a dance of light overhead. God didn’t have to allow us to perceive these lights, but to do so is a humbling reminder of the majesty of his creation. Thank you God for the Northern Lights.

O: Oceans. In theory, since we are land-dwellers God could have created a world of nothing but land. But God created the oceans before he allowed land to rise up from within it. Inside the oceans, a whole other world of life exists. Fish, water-dwelling mammals like dolphins and whales, and probably innumerable creatures we haven’t even discovered. There’s nothing quite like standing on the beach looking out at nothing but water, hearing the waves crashing powerfully on the shore, smelling the salt water and feeling the water spray on your face. I feel close to God and his creation when I’m near the ocean. Thank you God for the ocean.

P: Prayer. This still baffles me. That the Almighty God, creator of everything, needer-of-nothing chose to gift us with the privilege of entering into his presence through prayer. And not only that, to enter into the act of joining with him to bring about his “kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” (Matthew 6:10) through prayer. He is self-sufficient, and didn’t have to create us at all. Or he could have created us as slaves. But he desires fellowship with us. He allows that fellowship through prayer, and invites us lovingly into the throne room to commune with him, to be transformed by him (Romans 12:2, Psalm 139:23-24), and to lay our requests at his feet (Philippians 4:6, John 15:7). Thank you, oh thank you God for prayer!

Q: Questions. God could have made us little robots, incapable of questioning. But asking questions is what makes us uniquely human. If I’m honest, sometimes the robot option seems easier. But he gave us the gift of free will. Even though the questioning can be difficult, when we get to the place of seeking and eventually finding Truth, it’s all the sweeter and truer against the backdrop of doubt and questions. Thank you God for questions.

R: Rainbows. You can’t see a rainbow and not get excited, can you? Rainbows just seem so frivolously, beautifully wonderful. The science behind the rainbow is sunlight passing through millions and billions of tiny droplets of water and reflecting, refracting and dispersing that light into a display of color that is mind-blowing. In Genesis, the rainbow was a promise to Noah and all who would come after him that God would never again destroy the world through a flood. It’s cause for celebration. And the fact that a rainbow is always seen in the section of sky directly opposite from the sun reminds us of God’s light and love shining down on his creation. Thank you God for rainbows.

S: Sun. If you look into the science behind why our planet can sustain life, a big part of it involves its distance from the sun. The precision of this distance allows the earth to be just close enough to be the right temperature and allow water to exist in liquid form, and just far enough that we don’t all burn to a crisp. Or something like that. The sun brings light to our days (or at least most of our days, depending on where on the globe you live), warmth to our bodies and the ability for plants to photosynthesize. Living in Alaska, I’ve come to be especially thankful for the sun. The low winter sun shining in my south-facing kitchen window warms up a spot in my kitchen that feels cozy year-round, regardless of the temperature outside. In the summer it brings an explosion of life and day-long light that we celebrate (and take full advantage of!). The sun allows our bodies to produce vitamin D. There’s no feeling like basking in the sun and letting it warm you straight to your bones. Thank you God for the sun.

T: Tulips. Tulips are my favorite flower. I’ve never been to see the tulip fields in the Netherlands, but it’s on my bucket list! There’s something delicate and brilliant about tulips, and just looking at them makes me feel happy. God didn’t need to make flowers beautiful. He didn’t need to make flowers at all, but every time I see flowers (especially tulips!) it’s a joyful reminder that God loved us enough to make things like flowers beautiful. Thank you God for tulips.

U: Universe. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” - Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV) I think God could have created a small home for us, just enough to sustain and contain us. But he created the universe. I think by doing this he prompted us to ask questions and seek answers (see “K” and “Q”!) that would lead us to him. I’ve never felt closer to God than when I can look up and see the planets and stars. While some think science and faith are in opposition, I have found that the book of nature speaks the same Truth as the Word of God, when we read and interpret both correctly. And like God, his creation is understandable and yet there are parts of it that are unknowable - at least while we’re bound to earthly bodies. Thank you God that even your creation is beyond our full comprehension, and that it humbles us and points us to your even-greater-greatness! Thank you God for the universe.

V: Vision. I’m thankful for the ability to see with my physical eyes, as well as my spiritual ones. My actual vision is really, really bad without correction. My kids laugh when I wake up in the mornings and try to function without glasses or contacts (it really is comical). I realize that there are some who have sight limitations or none at all. I know that I’m not necessarily always going to be able to see with my physical eyes. But our hope is in a God who reveals himself in so many ways, giving us God-glasses to process the world through. While I’m thankful for being able to see with my eyes, the vision he gives us is a vision of eternal things. He has planted a hope in us for an invisible kingdom that has no end (Luke 17:20)! God, give us a vision of your kingdom, your purposes, and the ways we can glorify you with our lives right here, right now! Thank you God for vision.

W: Words. Language is a gift. It’s a way to nail down and express the thoughts, feelings and impressions that swirl chaotically through our minds. Have you ever tried thinking without words? It’s faster, but harder to pinpoint what’s going on in there. Without words, we could communicate with God, and maybe to a degree with each other, but there would be so many limitations. The bible addresses words quite a bit (Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 16:24, Proverbs 18:4) and validates the idea that words can breathe life into others. Because of words, we can speak Truth into lies, we can share the gospel, we can affirm what God has already said, and share his own words with others. We can brighten someone’s day. There is such power in the spoken word, and Jesus himself is described as the “logos,” or Word, and God has revealed himself through the words of the bible. Thank you God for words!

X: X is the Greek letter “chi” the initial letter in the word Χριστός, which means “Christ.” The symbol “X” is also called the Christogram, which has been held as an acceptable substitution for the word “Christ” as in “X-mas” (even though some aren’t fond of this substitution!). Christ is the greatest gift, and I’ve always thought of the gift as a twofold gift: God loved us so much that he gave us his only Son as a way for his fallen children to be brought back into fellowship with him (John 3:16). But also Christ himself seems to have had a choice (Philippians 2:6-7) in the matter, loving us enough to step down from heaven in all of its comfort and perfect harmony of the triune Godhead into our fallen, cold, imperfect world and suffering at the hands of those he came to save. Thank you Jesus for loving us so much. Help us to comprehend that love in an ever-increasing way so that we may pass it on to a world that desperately needs it. Thank you God for Christ.

Y: Y-Chromosome. If there were no Y-chromosome, we’d all be female. But “God created them male and female…” He created Adam with both X and Y chromosomes, containing all of the DNA necessary for both male (XY) and female (XX). We could have all been the same gender, but for some reason God chose to reflect his image through two halves of a whole - a man and a woman. Thank you God for choosing to use diversity to display your infinite image through finite humans! Thank you God for the Y-chromosome.

Z: Zeal. The passion within us is a gift. The ability to feel emotion and chase after the things that matter is something God didn’t have to give us. We could have been zeal-free robots, destined to live by logic. But God has given us in internal drive, that when properly harnessed by the yoke of Christ can drive us to greatness, bringing glory to his kingdom. Thank you God for zeal.

There’s nothing like gratitude to combat a grumbling spirit! Now you can go make your own A-Z list of gratitude any time you need it. And if you’d like an extra dose of gratitude inspiration, join us on the Praying Christian Women podcast for our interview with Tricia Goyer about her upcoming book “The Grumble Free Year.” It was so much fun, and you won’t want to miss it!

How about you, what was your favorite letter in today’s post? Share in the comments or by e-mail!

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