Based on the concept of Christmas in July, this week we have Thanksgiving in June. The dictionary doesn’t make much distinction between gratitude and thankfulness. I know, I looked it up. However, it seems there is a bit of a difference to me. Gratitude seems to be a characteristic that we need to cultivate. Thankfulness seems more immediate. At least that’s how I see it.
I have difficulty with gratitude. Life has beaten me up a lot. I’ve lived long enough to understand that you can never judge the level of another person’s pain. You know, someone tells you how bad things are for them and you think. What??? Is that all that’s wrong with you? You think wow, that’s not that bad. But it is to them. And if you are a good friend you keep your thoughts to yourself. We all have our own levels of tolerance when it comes to life’s losses.
My husband has gratitude. I’ve never met anyone so appreciative and so willing to say Thank God for every little thing. For example, I work hard in school. It is very important to me. I get good grades. When I do, I’m quick to share it. My husband’s response? Thank God. I’m like Thank God??? I did that. Okay, maybe I’m being too candid for some of you, but no one ever accused me of not being honest.
When our children accomplish something and thankfully they are a pretty accomplished bunch. They’ve worked hard. They’ve succeeded. My husband’s response? Thank God… Last night, supper was a bit off schedule. I had a phone call and talked too long so it wasn’t ready when he walked in the door. Usually it’s ready and I’m waiting on him. We often pray over the food, but again, in all honesty, I have to tell you that we don’t always. As I brought my plate to the table, he was sitting there staring at the food. We had grilled salmon with an amazing homemade mango chutney I had made over some rice with peppers, onions, zucchini, etc. The rice has no name as I made it up J. I asked him, why didn’t you start? He said this is so good looking and so wonderful we have to pray and thank God for it. As we bowed our heads and I prayed thanking God for the food, I realized that even though I had cut all those mangoes, roasted the peppers, spent hours on my feet, etc., without God, none of it was possible. Everything comes from God.
That’s gratitude. Looking at every situation regardless of whose physical hands or mind produced it, and saying “thank God.” We need to express our gratitude not just when the the big stuff happens like when someone gets unexpected money at the last minute, or those things that we call miracles. I believe it is what Paul meant when he wrote in Colossians 3:16:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.