My cup overflows with amazing grace, precious gifts poured out by your hands into my life: my husband, life partner; the gift of words and service to you, beyond anything I imagined; my offspring and all the years of watching growth; community here and over there, treasured brothers and sisters; the beauty of this world and all you have provided. Here is my hope and prayer: that the shalom in which I live and breathe might be consolation to the world around me— May my cup be full to the brim and bless those around me. When it gets jostled by hostile passersby, or those in too much haste, may it still be an unexpected blessing. And I rest in the confidence that you will fill it up again, because your lovingkindness is not temporary but forever. And you are the reason my cup overflows!
“My Cup Overflows” is a condensed version of a very long poem I wrote, one full of specific gratitude and of prayer (based on Psalm 16:5 and 23:5). Once you get started, it is hard to stop! And that says something about how contemplating God’s gifts has impact on perspective.
It’s a practice worth practicing! When I began to spend my first minutes in bed at night thanking God for the good things in that day I just lived, I found that my heart’s tensions were calmed. I shared this with a friend the other day, and she said that she starts her day that way, looking out her door and thanking the Lord for this day and for the flowers blooming—whatever is out there that shows his care. I like that. I do it differently, adding into my morning journal something good that I want to be grateful for. Sometimes it is sleep, or the fuchsia dawn breaking into the dark sky. Doing something like this is biblical:
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Ps. 118:24 ESV)
As we go through the day, remembering to give thanks reminds us of God’s presence. In Every Moment Holy there are even prayers (called “liturgies” in this collection) for such seemingly mundane things as eating good food, meeting a beautiful person, or this one that touched my heart:
“Upon Experiencing Cheering Laughter: I praise you, O God, for these inexplicable gifts of mirth and merriment and laughter, delighting in such foretaste of the wellsprings of eternal joy that ever bubble and flow within your glad Trinity.”
Remembering to be thankful for “mundane” moments like this reminds us of the constant presence of our God and Savior, so it complements the discipline of practicing his presence. This is true on our good days and our hard days. There are times when circumstances can make us feel like our cup is empty, but when we turn to the One who loves us constantly, confessing our hurt or anxiety, and thanking him for being with us and listening to our heart-cry, we are living out our union with him. He prayed for that (John 17:21). It is like breathing our conversation with him:
“God is the giver and we are the thanks-givers. The circle is complete and it allows us to open yet a deeper part of our life where there is weakness and we acknowledge our dependence on God. God meets us at that point with another blessing and gift. His grace and help come into our lives. We recognize that he has met us and blessed us. We know that it is a gift of grace that he has brought into our lives, so we respond again with gratitude, praise, trust and faith. The circle is complete and the spiral of our life and experience with God continues to deepen and widen. Life begins to change, not because the circumstances are easier or less demanding, but because we begin to see them in a new light.”
Finishing up her deep contemplation of this discipline, Jay Sivits writes, “gratitude is something that I am. It is the difference between doing and being.”
Being a thankful person changes one’s character. In the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook one set of the reflection questions on gratitude is this: “How has a grateful person affected your own vision of what matters in life? How has someone who lives out of bitterness affected your life?”
I’ll bet you were able to think of two very different people you know. I can. One grateful person that comes to mind is my mother-in-law, Elva Boese. Confined to her wheelchair or walker, she would not talk about her pain and weakness unless asked. Instead, she was exulting in the swans swimming in the pond beyond her window, or in a connection she had just had with a grandchild. And then there is the person who sees the cup “half-empty” or very sour, constantly. That is draining.
So how am I relating to the King of the Universe, my Abba? Complaints are obviously expected—just read the psalms of lament! But instead of wallowing in criticism and negativity, “thankfulness [would] be an antidote to [my] critical spirit.” Practicing it could change the way I interact with others, too, spreading hope instead of despair. As we grow in our relationship with God, knowing him more intimately from both Bible study and life experience, gratitude will well up within us. That is the way we can actually do what we are told to do:
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thess. 5:18 NLT)
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Col. 2:7 NLT)
This does not mean that every day will have sunshine instead of rain, using our Western way of looking at things. In the tropical woodland savanna where we lived in Côte d’Ivoire, people were thrilled when it was a gray, rainy day and the sun could not “beat them up.” One of our local “sons” (Abou Coulibaly) even burst into delight one day and said, in French, “Que ce jour est béni! Le ciel est tout gris!” I like to translate this into English this way: “It’s a beautiful day! The skies are all gray!” Sometimes we just need to shift our perspective to the blessing we can find, like rain on a dry land.
For one thing, no matter what is going on, our Lord is with us. He promised that. And he has proven it in history. A great way to remember this is to meditate on Psalm 107, which repeats over and over: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his loyal love, and for the amazing things he has done for people!” (Ps 107:8 NET) Or Psalm 136, where the repeated chorus is: “Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever. (Ps. 136:26 NIV)
Here are some suggestions for practicing this spiritual discipline:
- gratefully notice God’s presence and blessings throughout the day; greet or end your day with a prayer of thanks
- keep a gratitude journal, or write a poem
- receive what you have as a gift, not an entitlement
- write a letter of thanks to someone (I was prompted to do this, to thank my Hebrew professor from seminary for equipping me for the ministry God has given me)
- practice valuing people by thanking them for who they are to you, or to a community
- contemplate a hardship, find God’s presence in the hardship; if you cannot, fellowship with Jesus in Gethsemane. Listen to him.
“Delight in God and his good will is the heartbeat of thankfulness.”
Yes, He is the reason our cup overflows!
 McKelvey, Douglas. Every Moment Holy: Volume One Pocket Edition. (Nashville TN: Rabbit Room Press, 2019) 249.
 Sivits, Jay. “Developing the Discipline of Gratitude.” https://thewell.intervarsity.org/spiritual-formation/developing-discipline-gratitude
 Calhoun, Adele Ahlberg. Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices that Transform Us. (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books), 31
 Ibid, 29,31
 Ibid., 29
4 thoughts on “My Cup Overflows!”
Thank you so much for sharing all your wonderful thoughts! I am grateful for how you bless all your readers by allowing God to speak through you:)
Thank you! Please pray that I will always be listening!
Thank you! Pray that I will always be listening, please!
I do ask him to speak, as I begin to write. May it be so!