A Few Thoughts on Gratitude
… and it’s not even Thanksgiving!
Gratitude can be hard to come by.
When we’ve more than enough it’s easy to forget leaner times and consider our opulence to be – well, normal. Arrogance likes to pal around with Plenty and the two can be rather obnoxious when they strut their stuff.
Conversely, when we don’t know where the next check is going to come from (or we already know it isn’t going to be enough) it’s easy to lose sight of all God has done for us in the past. Doubt and Lack like to hang out together too — and they’re no fun either.
It’s easy to lose sight of God’s hand at either end of the pendulum swing, isn’t it? Remember Solomon’s prayer?
Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:  Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Proverbs 30:8-9)
Warning: Mixed metaphors ahead 😀
I hear it often, maybe you do too, that it’s harder to be thankful, to trust, etc. at the ends of the spectrum than in the middle. That it’s easier-this or easier-that when it comes to virtues like trust, gratitude, generosity, etc. I hear it the most in sermons, especially radio & TV preachers. At the risk of sounding disagreeable, I’m going to disagree.
Think a minute –
Gratitude has to be cultivated. Period.
Isn’t that true no matter our current place on the have – have-not continuum?
Granted, it feels different when we have enough than when we’re sorely in need without a clue how God is going to provide. But gratitude doesn’t automatically appear in middle class homes (“middle class” means different things on different continents, remember). It’s not standard equipment on luxury automobiles, family mini-vans or work-car “beaters”. Thankfulness doesn’t come to our party unless it’s invited, whether the invitation says “business casual” or “Black-tie formal attire, please.”
Thankfulness has to be nurtured or it evaporates.
So don’t give me “it’s easier there than here” anymore, OK? I don’t buy it.
Those who say “it’s easier there than here” haven’t been to at least one of the places they’re talking about.
Gratitude has to be taught. Learned. Nurtured.
- It starts when Mom & Dad say “Tell the nice man ‘Thank You’ ” or “What do you say?” and hear something in response that sounds more like “tatoo” than “Thank You”.
- It has to be taught through childhood, somehow survive adolescence and turn the corner into adulthood.
- Gratitude needs to be present the first time we hear the boss say “You’re doing good work here so I’m giving you more than a cost of living increase.”
- It needs to be in the room at the closing when the house grandpa bought 60 years ago is sold, and the money passed on the family.
- It needs to be present when that check is deposited, and when it’s put to use.
- Gratitude should walk into church with us on our way to worship.
- Thankfulness should sit next to us when we pour out our hearts in prayer meeting. (You do have times set aside for just prayer at your church, right?)
- It needs to ride with us on the way to work – or the interview we hope will lead to it.
- It needs to sit with us when we spend time with our Lord one-on-one at the beginning or close of the day.
But gratitude doesn’t come naturally.
Left to its own, it evaporates.
When it’s healthy, it’s a blessing. People enjoy the company of the grateful. They’re uplifting, encouraging people no matter which rung of the corporate ladder their feet rest on. But I can almost certainly tell you this: If they’re grateful people, they’ve taken the time to cultivate that virtue. They know how easily it slips away. They work at keeping it in their field of vision.
How is gratitude doing in your garden? Any thoughts come to mind as you read this? Any helps or suggestions for keeping it strong and vibrant in your outlook on life? You can disagree with me; I don’t mind. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Something to think about —