Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 11 Nov 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
Have you ever stopped to think about the importance of being grateful? Lots of books have been written on this topic including one called Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, by Professor Robert A. Emmons.
It’s a best-selling book—Emmons says, “I think gratitude is a demanding quality, a rigorous quality. It’s a discipline, an exercise…It may not come easily, but it can be developed…Gratitude has the potential to change everything from its ordinary state to being a gift.”
Are you grateful for what you’ve already got? It’s good to be grateful for what you have, to feel it, because things can change. It isn’t possible to feel positive 100% of the time. Sometimes we get sad, angry or don’t feel grateful at all. It’s part of being a human being. Although we might not feel it, there are things to be grateful for. Seek them out, because they will help to change your way of thinking.
Life has a habit of dragging you down if you’re not careful—so we need to try something new and practice it. After all it’s not that difficult to say Thank you to people who care for you, or people you care for—or even those you don’t know very well. In other words, living with a spirit of gratitude can change the way you look at life.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent years in the palliative care wards of our hospitals. But she started writing a blog in 2009 about her experiences caring for those who were dying. There were raw and honest conversations which she wrote about: the top five regrets that these patients had, and it makes fascinating reading. And the most common regret was this one: I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
In other words their own sense of joy and gratefulness had taken a back seat trying to please others. Why do we give up so easily when something goes wrong? It was C.S. Lewis who said, “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place”. Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive—if only we can see it in front of us.
Life can be tough—no doubt about it. Sometimes, when we feel weighed down, it’s hard to feel gratitude about anything much. But there is some good news. While we can’t always change the practical aspects of our lives, we can often change our response to life, and the way we see, feel and analyse what happens to us.
Like the two prisoners sitting one night in an old prison cell. They both looked through the bars; one saw mud the other saw stars. It all depends on what you see. And when Almighty God is part of your life, gratitude takes on a new meaning. Theologian Alexander Maclaren wrote this: “Seek to cultivate a buoyant, joyous sense of the crowded kindnesses of God in your daily life”. I will call this Christian gratitude. After all, if you believe in a loving God, you have much to be thankful for.
God loves you so much he sent his only Son to die on the cross for your sins and mistakes. He took your guilt. That’s a lot to be thankful for. He is the giver of every good gift you have in this life, and he promises you eternal life as well. In the Old Testament we read David’s words of thanks in Psalm 36:
Your love is faithful ,Lord,
and even the clouds in the sky
can depend on You.
Your decisions are always fair.
They are firm like mountains,
deep like the sea,
and all people and animals
are under your care. (Psalm 36:5-6 – CEV).
The Bible tells me that God’s mercies and blessings are new every morning. Why would we not look for his blessing each day with a sense of gratitude? He wants to bless you today.
The late Charles Colson was a top aide to President Richard Nixon in the 1970s and was sent to jail over the Watergate scandal. In jail he became a committed Christian and wrote several best-selling books. But he did say about gratitude: “Every time I hear the word grace, I am reminded that I must live a life, everyday, that reflects my gratitude to God.” Must have been very hard to practice that in jail. But his words are powerful indeed.
Why not sit down today and write a ‘thank you’ list: five things that you are grateful for. I’m sure you can find five.