Gratitude to God is the foundation, the very basis of our love for God. Without gratitude for all that He has done in our lives, for the privilege of living on this beautiful earth, for the life He had given us, for the companions we have along our journey—family and friends and others who inspire us–for the purpose of our lives, how can we possible love Him? Without gratitude we may pretend to love and serve Him, but how could we possibly gather our whole selves together in devotion to Him. Gratitude is the door-opener to loving God fully as well as our neighbors and ourselves with all of who we are.
Our lives are filled with challenges and pain and blessings and lots more. If we can step back from the tough stuff in our lives and see what strengths and learning it has taught us, then we can ask God to heal all that has been difficult for us. It is in healing the particularly difficult stuff that we have endured that we find the basis of our purpose in life. It is an amazing thing to me that I can now be grateful for the guilt-laden teaching of the hell-fire-and-damnation church I grew up in. I can now see easily that without that teaching about a punitive and vengeful God, I would never have sought out a God that I could love. It’s been the work of a lifetime, but now I bless God’s choice for me, I can see His footprints in my search for a good and loving God, in everything that happened to me. I know that I would never have become a spiritual director or a writer about the spiritual life in the 21st century without that early church. And I could not have guessed how He could heal all those teachings in me.
We might be an alcoholic, now an ex-alcoholic, or someone who endured abuse, or someone who lost a parent early in life—and a survivor of so many other difficult circumstances. But when the difficulty has been acknowledged and faced and mourned even, there is God using those very painful circumstances to show us how we are to help others with similar problems. That is His grace, His saving grace operating in us in this world. And in the end, there is gratitude for how we can help others with the same problems.
The beauty of this earth is an inspiration and a constant reminder of God’s amazing universe that He created. The interdependence of every plant and animal upon each other for sustenance. And everywhere we look, there is the beauty to inspire us, to calm us, to reflect even what is true about ourselves. There is gratitude for the earth’s beauty which inspires us.
Without gratitude our love is not really love. There is not total trust in God. We have too many questions, objections, prayers that we think go unanswered, when in reality He answers them all, but in ways that we have not asked for. Can we see the beauty and grace in His answers for us? or are we disappointed that He did not do what we asked?
To live in gratitude for all that God is in our lives is to embrace our lives as they are. It is to trust totally in God’s providence, to see with new eyes, to live in peace. Gratitude is the opening for us to see God more fully, to love Him more deeply. It opens our eyes to His blessings in our lives. It builds anticipation for what He might do next. It creates a well-worn path in our minds and spirits by which we turn to Him for help in every sphere of our lives, throughout our days. It is how we know that He loves us and forgives us.
Give Thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord?
Who can ever praise him enough? [Psalm 106:1-2]
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I grateful to God for the way my life has gone, for my challenges as well as the blessings? Am I aware of God’s presence in my life, of his gifts and answers to my prayers? Do I welcome all that He does for me? Am I grateful for all that he does? Do I show Him that gratitude?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have gratitude in our hearts for all that God does for us. May we express that gratitude in love and trust and faith in our Creator and Sustainer. May we live at peace with all that He is to us, all that He asks us to do.
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