By April O’Neil
I am grateful. Grateful for everything God has done to reveal His love for me. Thankful I have the ability to write these words, and enter into a new day. Gratitude trumps any feeling I may have, because expressing gratitude is within my reach. It is a choice. I choose to be thankful, regardless of my circumstances and even in the stormy days, I can always find something to be grateful for, and for that I am grateful.
Henri J. M. Nouwen, a Catholic Priest and celebrated author wrote:
“Gratitude … goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.”
It is with intention that gratitude is born. With so many things in life out of our control, gratitude is one that is ours for the taking. In a moment we can choose to be grateful for what we witness – from an unexpected smile exchanged between strangers to the unparalleled beauty of God’s signature landscape. In moments of solitude and prayer we can release our gratefulness, and in the tenderness of relationship we can share this most precious and restorative gift with others. Ultimately, through the expression of gratitude, we are graciously led back to the giver. This connection, this priceless bond, creates a joy within us that lingers and plants roots of love in our heart.
Like music, gratitude is a universal language. It transcends all borders. This video, an “experiment” in gratitude, reveals how taking gratitude one step further amplifies joy. This is God’s design.
Gratitude is a God-given gift, created to unite us with Him. Discovering God as the source of all goodness (James 1:17), deepens our gratitude. When you are alone with God, reading and absorbing His Word, lifting your needs up in prayer and thanking him for what He has done, you renovate your mind and set the stage for joy to enter in (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). Gratitude is the thread that weaves our love for God to our neighbor, and is what drives our desire to serve others. Our foundational goal as a believer is to continue to draw closer to God, and gratitude is the expressway that takes us there.
How will you choose to express your gratitude today? To whom are you thankful? Please write us at [email protected] and share your stories of gratitude, and how they have transformed your life. Your story is a gift that will ultimately encourage others.