It should come as no surprise that during this time of year, I would focus on Gratitude. So, before I sat down to write my column this month, I stopped and reflected on the word. I don’t want to go through the same old sentiments you hear year after year. Because quite frankly, Gratitude is something I believe we take for granted. Do you know what I mean
What I mean is that it feels kind of superficial to say this is the season to be thankful, when to me, every single day that we are alive is a day to be grateful. I mean, look at the last several years, not only in the United States but throughout the world. Racial tensions, divisiveness, increased anger and violence, and a pandemic. If we survived getting some fatal disease, we should be grateful. If we could overcome the loud voices spewing violence and hatred without losing our true north, be thankful. If we still have our homes, jobs, family members, and even relationships with old friends, that’s reason to be grateful.
What is Gratitude, and why do we need to have it? I think there are two kinds of Gratitude —both important, but I want to focus on biblical Gratitude. One author wrote that biblical Gratitude means to give goodness and grace to others, as we have received from God. It means to extend the joy of receiving to others and God through gestures of kindness and goodness. It is what Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
I trust when we extend these gifts to others, we get them in return. I also believe that the only way we can genuinely exercise these fruits is to start by recognizing that all of these are extended to us by the grace of God. As such, we should be thankful that He thought enough of us to extend them. Some might ask, “How did He do that?” Through His Son, Jesus. John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son. Whoever will believe in Him will not perish but have life.” You might not be able to wrap your mind around these scriptures, and I can understand that. People have asked me how I can believe them. Well, I tell you how, through faith. Faith that when I give, I will receive. When I forgive, others will forgive me, and when I show grace to others, people will extend that same grace to me. For that, I am grateful.
I honestly believe that. Gratitude tends to eliminate cynicism, sarcasm, and mistrust. A thankful heart creates optimism rather than pessimism. And, it causes us to give others the benefit of the doubt. You know, the same we ask others to do for us.