One thing I picked out of today’s sermon is that saying thank you, and meaning it, is a way to let the giver know that you greatly value whatever they have given you. It is not enough to think that your internal feelings of gratitude will suffice. Gratitude has to be vocalized. As we wind up the year and meditate upon the different things that have happened, I’d like us to give thanks to God and to the people in our lives. Say thank you to someone today and honour them with your words and other forms of gifting.
Gratitude is the right attitude at all times. Even in the bad times. King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything. I believe the time for gratitude is all the time. Yes, all the time. When bad things happen, we feel bitter and hurt, and think that there is absolutely nothing we can be thankful for. I want to challenge you to look back at the bad things you’ve experienced and how you came out on the other end, when the sun had come out again. More often than not, you will find yourself wiser and stronger, especially if you dealt with the situation in the right way, with the right attitude. In the very least, at least you will be more knowledgeable and able to avoid making the same bad decisions again.
Of course there are tragic things that happen that break the spirit so badly and it becomes close to impossible to see anything good in that time. However, even in those kinds of situations, the fact that you are still alive and breathing is for a reason. You can choose to see the world as all black, but you can also choose to consciously find something to be grateful for, especially if you are still alive because that is already a sign that God has more plans for you.
I watched a video last week of a lady who had been in a fatal car accident that left her in very bad physical shape, unable to have normal bowel control (so she moves around with a bag), unable to walk (so she is always in a wheel chair) and unable to have children. What struck me though is her attitude. She said she decided to let go of her fear and insecurities and look at her situation positively. She adopted children and gives them the love others denied them. In addition, she speaks to millions of people about her situation and how she chose the right attitude. She is grateful for what she has and has let go of what she doesn’t have or can never have. I was moved beyond words for she is truly amazing. Not many have the strength to mentally recover from such a situation.
To bring it back home, on a personal level, even though I was bitterly hurt after my last relationship, which I thought was supposed to end in marriage, I still said and still say thank you to God that it ended. Imagine crying so much that the pain becomes a physical pain, soaking your pillow but still, with your lips saying, “Thank you God for I know and trust that you have a plan. There are clear reasons why this has ended and I will focus on where you are taking me rather than where I have been”. It was painful. Very. My words of gratitude did not take away the pain but my attitude is what mattered. In fact, this morning in church, I kept saying to God over and over, thank you for the tough times I went through this year. I thanked him especially about that relationship ending, and with real gratitude too, because I know now with certainty, that man was never the man for me. It does not make him a bad person, it simply means he wasn’t right, for me specifically.
And of course, gratitude is the right attitude when you are highly favoured and blessed with your heart’s desires. Give thanks for family and friends. Give thanks for life, health and work. The list of things to be grateful for is endless if you are honest with yourself.
Yes, there may be a lot you don’t have. Yes, there may be a lot you hope to achieve. However, there is a lot that you have already achieved. Celebrate your achievements even when they seem little. Celebrate people with a joyful heart.
It’s a season to be grateful but continue the spirit of gratitude beyond this season for the season for gratitude is every season.
A happy gratitude-filled festive season to you.