Gratitude (Daily Encouragement Series)
“Now on the way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice. “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner? Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” – Luke 17:11-19
It can be very easy to focus on what we can’t do and what we don’t have, particularly during this time when we are limited in those things. This will lead to a sense of entitlement, striving and anxiety. (As I am typing, our 2 dogs have 2 bones yet are still fighting with each other over getting the same bone….and yes, they are waking up the kids.) This passage and teaching from the “Emotionally Healthy Relationships” devotional* reminds us of the need to “cultivate gratitude”. This allows us to focus on what we can do and what we do have – which helps us cultivate gratefulness and contentment:
God repeatedly invites us to cultivate gratitude—not just with an occasional prayer, but as a way of life. Consider just a few of the psalmists’ many commands to be thankful:
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. (Psalm 107:1)
Sacrifice thank offerings to God…Those who sacrifice thank offering honor me. (Psalm 50:14, 23).
Let us come before him with Thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2)
The problem is that we so easily take things for granted. At times, we even feel entitled. We expect, and sometimes even demand that things in life go our way. Yet God invites us to give thanks for the big and small gifts that come into our lives each day. Why? We all depend—in every detail and moment in life—on him.
“Blessed is he who expects nothing,” said Francis of Assisi, “for he shall enjoy everything.” Francis understood that none of us can earn the beauty of a start in the sky or a sunset on the horizon, that our utter dependence on God is the very rock of reality. Irish poet and author John O’Donohue put it this way: “Because we are so engaged with the world, we usually forget how fragile life can be and how vulnerable we always are. It takes only a couple of seconds for a life to change irreversibly.”
One of the great wonders of life is that, when we make gratitude—expressing applications—a way of life, God changes not only us but also our relationships and the communities in which we participate, including family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
What two or three things from the past week are you most thankful for? (For example, good health or healing, people in your life, possessions, opportunities, trials, closed doors, spiritual blessings, etc.) Express your heartfelt gratitude to God for these gifts.
Prayer: Father, it is easy for me to walk around with a sense of entitlement and forget how fragile life is, how everything is a gift. Even as I live in a culture of striving and anxiety, teach me gratefulness and contentment—in everything and for everything. In Jesus’ name, amen.
*From “Emotionally Healthy Relationships Day by Day” by Peter Scazzero