Gratitude the Indispensable Trait

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11 NIV

As we come to another Thanksgiving Day, we are reminded of the fact that we have much for which we can be thankful. An older minister at my Rotary Club this week shared about his memories of the depression that resulted in extended family all occupying the same house.

At times our gratitude is for that which we have “not” experienced as much as for what we do have. “But for the grace of God“, many of us could have a life trajectory and experience that placed us in a circumstance far from where we are. So, as we thank the Lord for what we do have and what have experienced we can be reminded that may stand in sharp contrast to some we know and what could have been our “lot in life.”

Another reason for thanksgiving is when we reflect or respond to that which has come to us through the generosity and goodness of others. As Paul writes to the Corinthians about helping poor believers in Jerusalem, he tells them that “God will take care of them and continue to allow them to be generous and that those who receive their support will give thanksgiving to God.”

Often it can be easy to only look at others for they have done through acts of kindness or generosity, however we must remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above.” (James 1:17) As we express thankfulness “for” others, we should also be thankful “to” God.

As I reflect back on five years ago as I experienced my health crisis. I am reminded of the ways the Lord used so many people to come alongside of Debbie and myself to help in what seems to be innumerable ways. We will always be thankful for those people and to the Lord for showing us His love and provision through others.

But thankfulness can be challenging to maintain. At times the miracles of the past become faint or forgotten memories. The busyness and the mundane of life can crowd out time to stop and reflect and to be thankful. It is interesting how often “thanksgiving and prayer” and “thanksgiving and worship” are referenced in scripture. Thanksgiving is possible when we stop, reflect and remember what the Lord has done and is doing for us even in small ways and regardless of our circumstances.

As a pastor I always have found it challenging to find something “fresh” to share about thanksgiving and its importance. I found something that got my attention. It comes from “The Rational Bible” Dennis Prager’s commentary on the Book of Exodus. Dennis Prager is a Jew who is a scholar of the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and is a cultural and political commentator as well.

He writes these words, “In many ways, gratitude is the most important of all the good character traits. It is the most indispensable trait to both happiness and goodness. One can neither be a happy person nor a good person without gratitude. The less gratitude one has the more one sees oneself as a victim, and nothing is more likely to produce a bad person or a bad group than defining oneself or one’s group as a victim….As for happiness, if you think of all the people you know, you will not be able to name one who is ungrateful and happy. The two are mutually exclusive.”  ( Prager, D. 2018. “The Rational Bible-Exodus: God, Slavery and Freedom”  [pg 440] Washington, D.C., Regency Faith)

To experience happiness, to possess goodness, be thankful….and eat turkey!