The Bible underscores the importance of gratitude. We all know the importance of gratitude; we spend time teaching our children how to say, “thank you,” and how to write a note of appreciation after they have received gifts. But often as adults we fail to express our appreciation or to see the silver lining in the people, places or situations at hand! In Tuesday’s Psalm we are told:
“But let the righteous be glad and rejoice before God: let them also be merry and joyful.” (Psalm 68:3)
The person who has a grateful heart—and who expresses it in a sincere way—builds strong relationships and offers a gift of value to the recipient. This truth applies not only on a human level but also in our communication with God.
We all know this year has brought many hardships and contentious emotions. On the airwaves, around the proverbial water cooler, and kitchen tables complaining and criticizing has unfortunately become the norm and can even be viewed in a positive light. However, complaining and criticizing rarely does any good, whereas a word of gratitude, well, it can make someone’s day, maybe even change their life! We see this occur when Jesus bestows the blessing above all blessings upon the Samaritan leper after he expressed his immediate gratitude for Jesus’ healing. You remember, he is the only one of ten who upon realizing he was cleansed began to immediately praise God loudly and returned to Jesus falling facedown at His feet and said “Thank You.” The Samaritan received Jesus’ gratitude for his thankfulness when Jesus proclaims, “Rise and go; your faith has saved you”. (Luke 17:11-19)
Mother Teresa speaks of a time she brought a woman in who she described “was in a most terrible condition”. The woman said nothing while Mother Teresa cleaned her and put her in bed. It was at this point she witnessed there across the woman’s face a beautiful smile formed. Mother Teresa says the woman then took hold of her hands and said two words, “Thank you.” Then she died. This made her think about the gift she had received from this woman, the gift she calls “grateful loving”. She came to realize that even those with nothing can give the gift of gratitude.
Our forefathers, the Pilgrims like this dying woman and like many of us this past year had reasons to be ungrateful. They suffered a long harsh, unforgiving winter where countless souls were lost due to weather, travel and disease. Yet that is not where their hearts took them. They chose to be thankful for each other and God!
This past week I purchased a small glass dish that spoke to my heart, it proclaims to me by the words painted in its base:
“Be Happy not because everything is good but because you can see the good in everything.”
Let us celebrate Thanksgiving Day well this year! Let us not grumble and criticize but count our innumerable blessings; being grateful for all aspects of our lives, not because everything in them is good but because like the Pilgrims and this dying woman we too can see good in our situations, in others and most especially in God.
The Biblical truth is when we express genuine gratitude it gives life to you and others. And what better Gift can there be than giving the gift of “grateful loving!”
May God grant a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!