Gratitude (Monday 20 March)
There are any number of psychology manuals and self-help books that will tell you the benefits of positive thinking, counting your blessings, looking on the bright side, choosing to see the best in every situation. The spiritual discipline of gratitude may have some of the same impact on mental health, but it is a different thing altogether. Its focus is on the giver- the God who is the source of all beauty, goodness and joy in this life and the one to come. Let’s use this week as an opportunity to become more grateful, and in doing so, to open our eyes to the evidence that our father loves us beyond measure.
Always be glad because of the Lord! I will say it again: Be glad. Always be gentle with others. The Lord will soon be here. Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God. Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel.
Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don’t ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. You know the teachings I gave you, and you know what you heard me say and saw me do. So follow my example. And God, who gives peace, will be with you.
The Lord has made me very grateful that at last you have thought about me once again. Actually, you were thinking about me all along, but you didn’t have any chance to show it. I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
Few of us are naturally grateful. Gratitude is an attitude that must been ingrained by constant practice, by making minute by minute choices to give thanks for large and small mercies. Whatever is happening around us, we can be ‘glad because of the Lord’ (v. 4).
Paul is an example of someone who has mastered his thoughts. His contentment is hard won, and given his experiences, pretty surprising. But what he had learnt is that when we give thanks to God as a matter of course, it leads to peace and it makes us strong.
Compile a list of twenty things you have to give thanks for God for today. Keep the list with you and use it as a prompt for your prayers over the rest of the week, adding to it whenever you can.
‘Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.’
(Sarah Ban Breathnak)
“If we think we will have joy only by praying and singing psalms, we will be disillusioned. But if we fill our lives with simple good things and constantly thank God for them, we will be joyful, that is, full of joy. And what about our problems? When we determine to dwell on the good and excellent things in life, we will be so full of those things that they will tend to swallow our problems.”
(Richard J. Foster, Celebration of Disciple: The Path to Spiritual Growth