The Great Fullness of Gratefulness
There is a story about a Pastor who, while leading Sunday Service during a mission trip to a leper colony in Tobago, encountered a woman whose face was overtaken by the leprosy. “It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” the Pastor described. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone.” Yet, it was this very woman who asked to sing a song. “She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’” The Pastor left the service overcome with emotion, saying that he would never sing that song again in the same way.
The human soul is a mystery. Somehow, the more we have and attain in life, the less grateful we so often become. It’s only when we lose things, only when we find ourselves in want or in pain of some kind, that authentic gratefulness can be truly understood. But this does not happen spontaneously. Gratefulness, authentic gratefulness, must be learned, cultivated. As Paul notes in his letter to the Philippians, a letter which he wrote during imprisonment, “for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.”
Gratefulness does not come naturally to the human soul. It is a virtue, a habit that must be learned, must be practiced. Many studies have been conducted around this intriguing mystery, and time after time the results are the same: when we take time to stop, consider and truly appreciate that which we have, instead of that which we don’t, our attitude shifts, our mindset changes, our outlook improves and even our bodies feel healthier. Gratefulness improves our being in every way. Through it, we can experience great fullness, even in the midst of great loss. It is the fullness of peace and contentment. It may not solve the problems we face, but gratefulness certainly offers added strength, clarity and proper perspective to walk through them. Science has proven what God already knows: we are designed to give thanks.
This is the truth Paul was referring to when he said he had learned to be content. This did not just happen for Paul; he had to practice being thankful, being satisfied, and looking for the positive in the midst of the negative. And through that practice he learned the beauty of gratefulness: the peace of contentment. What can we be thankful for today? There is always something or someone to be grateful for if we only take the time to look. And there is power in thankfulness, the power to heal, to restore and to renew our very beings. Indeed, there is great fullness in the practice of gratefulness. We need only seek and we will find it.
Compassionate Lord - we take this moment to stop and say thank you, for today, for this moment. In the midst of our lives, full of so much it’s difficult to keep track, we ask You to help us see and appreciate those things that so easily slip past us. Help us recognize the many gifts You provide: breath, companionship, food, a caring neighbor, the blue sky, singing birds, safe passage through the day...and so much more. Help our souls to focus on the positive to help us more gracefully walk through the negative. Help us to be seekers of good, that we may experience the great fullness of gratefulness. To Your glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.