“The only value of our life is that it is a gift of God. Gratitude shows reverence to God in the way it makes use of His gifts.”
Thomas Merton ~ No Man Is An Island
To know God is to know our existence is good. When we place God as first in our lives we see endless opportunities to not just see good but to be goodness itself. When we put worldly baggage such as money, pride, social status, and anything else we would need more of we do not truly know God or even feel His presence.
Let’s take the term, “Keeping up with the Joneses” as an example. It seems to be an all too common goal to not just have what our neighbors have, but to have it better and bigger. It is not enough to just have a roof over our heads, food for our children, or some type of transportation. When we become ungrateful to our existence and seek to live like others, we can’t ever seem to just exhale in the comfort of our own lives. There’s always a new phone, better car, bigger designer bag, bigger home, shinier ring, and all the other items of the world that can hinder our communion with God and creation. Just when we think we are happy with what we have, the lady down the street rolls up in her new luxury automobile. Meanwhile, the other family next door is “house broke”. They have these nice cars and a big home, but inside their fridge is as bare as their furnitures bedrooms. Their children are hungry and their lights are about to go out. This is the price they pay for wanting all outside appearances to reflect social status more than having gratitude for just merely existing.
Have you ever encountered a family living in poverty in the inner city or in the rural areas? They are the people with the least stuff, the least social status. Yet, most are abundant in gratitude. They do not know when their next meal is coming or how they are going to find a job, but they are so rich in heart. They see the blessing in just simply waking up. They are abundant in hope because when they see a need for God they also see His good works. They appreciate it all.
Not every person in the Jones Neighborhood lives without gratitude just as not everyone in poverty knows the joy in having gratitude, these are just two examples of popular observations.
In my own life, I notice emptiness most when I am not grateful for what I have. It is easier than I’d like to admit to say I often feel I deserve this and that. That I worked hard all week taming twin toddlers and adolescent boys and I deserve a reward. I miss out on the rewards God has already given by just allowing me to live this life full of love, dirty diapers, temper tantrums, and hard times that provide growth in the end. Gratitude in my existence is allowing God to be God among, in, and through me.
Gratitude in our own being allows us to further see the value of all of His creation. When we are in full understanding that God is the Creator and has given everything its place, we can appreciate even our least liked people, places, and things. To understand everything has value gives us ample opportunity to see the good in everything and everyone. Gratitude highlights the fruits of the Spirit, mostly joy.
How has gratitude enhanced your relationship with God and others? How has not being grateful for life affected your joy?