A few years ago, some well known people all over the world took part in a magazine poll, and were asked a question “If you could be granted one wish that will come true right now, what would that be?”. There were some very interesting responses. But one response impressed the magazine editors so much that they wrote an article about it. And this response was “I wish that I could be given an even greater ability to appreciate all that I already have”.
That’s a great statement I think. Because there’s an underlying thought that some people don’t appreciate everything they have at the time. Maybe that’s what’s wrong with us. We take too much for granted. I heard of a husband and wife couple who have a routine each night before going to sleep. They share with each other 3 things for which they are grateful They call it “doing our gratefuls”. And that’s a good thing to do. Another group of people were surveyed in 2003 and they said they were grateful for things like sunset through the clouds, the chance to be alive, and the generosity of friends.
Yet others of us are never grateful for what we have .. The story is told of two friends who bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked especially forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked him, “What has happened. What has the world done to you, that you should be so sad?” His forlorn friend replied, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an aunt died and left me $10,000.” “Well, well. That’s a lot of money!” “But two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew, passed away leaving me $20,000 free and clear.” “Sounds like you have been incredibly blessed!” “Just wait. Last week I learned I had inherited $100,000.” Now his friend was really confused. Then why do you look so glum?” “This week…nothing!”
Michael Angier said “if you learn to appreciate much of what you already have, you’ll find yourself having more to appreciate”. I guess you can sit down and read the newspaper today – what about the 2 billion people worldwide who can’t read? That’s just one small example of the blessings we enjoy today. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote in one of his books “If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul”. That word appreciate means to be thankful or show gratitude. In our hectic fast paced life today, it’s very easy to forget about the many things for which we have to be grateful. We’re too busy worrying about issues in life, and as a result we become ungrateful people, and that’s a real shame.. because what we focus on, actually expands our thinking. If we focus on our problems, they tend to increase. If we focus on the good things we already have, they have a tendency to grow.
I know that when life is hard, expressing gratitude can be a challenge – you don’t feel like it. But when everything’s going well, it’s easy to take everything for granted and forget to thank God for all His blessings in our lives. There are always hundreds of reasons to be grateful – we can call it “count your blessings”. I mean common sense tells us to be thankful, and the Bible says in Psalm 92:1 “It’s a good thing to give thanks to the Lord”.
Common sense tells us that to be continually thankful for our blessings can only make us more optimistic about our circumstances. Perhaps you are so filled with worry there is no room for gratitude, perhaps you aren’t feeling blessed this day. Perhaps, hard as you try, you cannot see the gifts that God has given you. Maybe the pain in your life has overwhelmed you to the point where you can no longer see how blessed you are. Or perhaps you have been so blessed that even those blessings don’t feel as blessed any more.
The Bible teaches us to “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Psa. 106:1).
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Apollo 11 landed on the surface of the moon on Sunday, July 20, 1969. Most of us are familiar with astronaut Neil Armstrong’s historic statement as he stepped onto the moon’s surface: “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” But few know about the first meal eaten there.
Buzz Aldrin had brought aboard the spacecraft a tiny Communion kit provided by his church. Aldrin sent a radio broadcast to Earth asking listeners to contemplate the events of that day and give thanks. Then, in radio blackout for privacy … [Aldrin] read, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit.”
Thomas Merton wrote “To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything God has given us. Every breath we draw is a gift of his love; every moment of existence is a grace. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and praise.”