by Tim Mooney
The Word in Scripture
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in all thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
In all things give thanks. Sounds hard, if not downright impossible. But give it a try. It helps us focus on attitude, the gratitude, instead of the events and circumstances of our lives. It’s a way of saying that despite circumstances, there is an experience of grace, wonder and love, available to us that transforms our attitudes and our ability to respond with love and grace.
Gratitude is, it seems, a choice. The scriptures are full of examples of God’s people, in the midst of pain and suffering, somehow finding their way to hope, to gratitude. Lamentations, written after the destruction of Jerusalem, reads, “The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day.” The little-known prophet Habakkuk, writes, “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Lord is my strength! He will make me as sure-footed as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” Jeremiah, writing to the people in exile, tells them to do the things that make for gratitude. Build homes and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce; take wives and husbands and make babies, multiply, do not diminish life. And, he tells them, seek the welfare of the city to which they’ve been exiled.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus gives ten lepers a simple instruction: Go and show yourselves to the priests. As they went, they discovered they were healed of leprosy. One leper, a Samaritan, returns to Jesus and thanked him. Jesus comments, “Where are the others? Is only this foreigner, one outside of the Jewish faith, the only one to give thanks?” Jesus then says, “Your faith has made you well.”
There is a difference between being healed or made clean, and being made well. This story uses the example of someone outside the faith – the unclean – to show what it means to be well. Gratitude makes us well. Meister Eckhart wrote, “If the only prayer you ever say in our entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.” So let us move toward being made well by finding our gratitude.
Holy One, open my eyes that I might see clearly the path of gratitude in all things, and give me the courage and the willingness to walk daily down that path. Amen.
During the week, take a few moments to find gratitude in the following categories of events:
An experience of joy.
An experience of loss.
An experience of confusion.
An experience of forgiveness.
An experience of disappointment.
An experience of love.