I was having lunch the other day with my friend, Brother Dave. He is a retired business owner, loving husband of 51 years, father, grandfather, and man of seasoned faith. I asked him a question: “What have you learned in your near eighty years of living? What’s important?”
He immediately replied, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
I then asked, “How do you develop contentment?”
“Gratitude,” he said. “You must learn the discipline of being thankful.”
Gratitude is powerful.
Gratitude is a kind of immunization against all kinds of “nasties” such as anger, anxiety, depression, and even addiction. You see, gratitude gives rise to joy, peace, . . . contentment.
One author writes, “Gratitude may be the greatest secret to happiness there is.” I agree. It is not how much you have that determines your level of happiness but how much you appreciate what you have.
After working with the addicted for over 30 years, I believe that gratitude is one of the principal evidences of recovery. People who are getting better are increasingly thankful.
I remember one resident of almost 20 years ago. Joe was involved in a near fatal electrical accident. Over 60% of his body had been badly burned. After several surgeries, pain was his constant nemesis. Crack cocaine became his relief.
He entered the program and marvelously returned to the God he had once embraced. He experienced forgiveness of his sins and the hope of eternal life with Jesus. He felt loved. His heart was at peace.
Any time I took him with me to share his testimony, gratitude would flow unceasingly from his tongue. He would go on and on about all the things—big and small—for which he was thankful.
Gratitude, however, is not only a leading indicator of recovery, it is also one of the shortest pathways to recovery. People who practice giving thanks heal better and faster.
How is this so? Psalm 50:23 states, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” Giving thanks opens the door to God’s salvific blessings. Gratitude creates a pathway for God’s healing presence to invade your and my life.
But as powerful as it is, gratitude does not come naturally. We must train ourselves in this discipline. No wonder the charge to give thanks in its many forms (e.g., “Worship the Lord,” “Clap your hands,” “Sing,” etc.) is the most frequently recorded command in the Bible.
I love this thought from the late Brennan Manning found in his book, Ruthless Trust, “Let’s say I interviewed ten people, asking each the same question—‘Do you trust God?’—and each answered, ‘Yes, I trust God,’ but nine of the ten actually did not trust him. How would I find out which one of the ragamuffins was telling the truth?
I would videotape each of the ten lives for a month and then, after watching the videos, pass judgment using this criterion: the person with an abiding spirit of gratitude is the one who trusts in God.
The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness. Gratitude arises from the lived perception, evaluation, and acceptance of all of life as grace—as an undeserved and unearned gift from the Father’s hand.”
Yes, this pandemic has taken much from us. Still, there is much left for which we have to be grateful.
“It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”
(Ps. 92:1, KJV)