Just a few days after she received Gabriel’s news, Mary visited Elizabeth, who would soon give birth to John the Baptist. It is there that Mary offered a song of praise to the Lord (Luke 1:46–56): “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” From the moment she learned that God had appointed her for this extraordinary experience, Mary’s life was full of uncertainty. But she thanked God anyway.
The shepherd boy with just five small stones and a slingshot didn’t know whether his meager weapon would bring down the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1–50). The immediate future must have looked pretty bleak to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a blazing furnace (Daniel 3:19–30). The poor widow who visited Elisha could hardly have imagined that her small flask of oil would multiply and meet her mammoth needs (2 Kings 4:1–7). Then there were Ruth, Esther, and Daniel. They were all in the jaws of uncertainty; yet like Mary, they thanked God in advance. They thanked him anyway.
This excerpt is taken from Gratitude: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2014.