“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Gratitude is not a feeling, it is a choice. It is a way of seeing, and then a way of being. It is a way of looking at life that recognizes that everything is a gift. It is a way of trusting that even in the most challenging of circumstances there is something to be grateful for. God is still at work. That’s why Paul reminds us to “give thanks in all circumstances.” In fact, that is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. God’s will is not for us to complain and ask “why” and get frustrated and angry about the things in this life that we can’t control, it is an invitation to find him and his goodness in the midst of them.
Unfortunately, that is not always easy to do. Sometimes we let our circumstances get the best of us. Sometimes we let our circumstances turn us into the worst possible version of ourselves: frustrated, angry, and entitled. In fact, one of the biggest enemies of gratitude is entitlement. Entitlement does not see everything as a gift that should be received, but as a right that must be possessed and defended, which, seemingly, makes loving each other an impossibility.
So let’s choose gratitude instead of entitlement. Let’s make each day an opportunity for joy and thanksgiving, because joy is the fruit of gratitude. As a wise saint once said, “Gratitude makes the heart great.” So let’s make each day great.
Give us, O Lord, a heart of gratitude, rather than a spirit of entitlement. Help us to see that all of life is a gift to be received and not a right to be possessed and defended. Amen.