Sunday, March 23, 2008

14. Be grateful.

Good afternoon! Here's a wonderful meditation from Janet:

I was taught at an early age, as you probably were, to say “thank you” when receiving candy, a gift, or a compliment. Being grateful is an important virtue. I believe that it’s an important element of remaining happy throughout life, and a vital aspect of having a strong relationship with God. Here are some reasons I have come to this conclusion.

In the Psalms we repeatedly see the simple yet profound truth that “It is good to give thanks to God.” (1) The Holy Scriptures remind us to “give thanks for all things to God in the name of Christ Jesus (2,) in everything give thanks (3,) and thank God without ceasing (4.) In the lives of Christ and the Saints we see countless examples of their gratitude to God for His blessings and for every circumstance. We sing thankful praise to God in the Divine Liturgy. In fact, “Eucharist” means giving thanks, and the Eucharist is a topic in itself.

How often do I thank God? Do I thank Him for all things, even when I don’t feel like it, even when things don’t go the way I want, or when someone disappoints me? Especially in these situations, I should be thankful: thankful that God has a better plan than the one I wanted, thankful that the disappointment is for my good, and thankful for the person who disappointed me. I see a direct correlation in my life between a grateful heart and a strong relationship with God. In contrast, when I complain or become discontent, I am not being grateful for the many ways God has provided for me with a loving family, a strong church home, and material needs. In other words, a thankful mindset is incompatible with sinful thoughts. I like to think that gratitude crowds out sinful tendencies. As a practical way of being thankful, my goal is to thank God throughout the day for His mercy, protection, and goodness, as well as for specific answers to prayer whenever they come to mind.

“Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever.” (5) This psalm which we often sing during Liturgy brings great joy to my mother and me when I sing this psalm to her. She, who taught me to be thankful as a child, can worship God with me as we praise Him for His great mercy!

1- Psalm 92:1
2- Ephesians 5:20
3- I Thessalonians 5:18
4- 2 Thessalonians 2:13
5- Psalm 118, Psalm 136

1 comment:

Colleen said...

Thank you, Janet, for your gentle and encouraging words. I tend to focus on what is not right during Lent--my sin, my lack of discipline, my failings in my prayer life and in trusting God--and I forget that Lent is really about the restoration of balance in our lives. Another important aspect of balance is restoring thankfulness in our hearts and in our thinking, which in turn enables us to recognize God's love and mercy at work in our lives.

The Forty Maxims

  • 1. Be always with Christ and trust God in everything.
  • 2. Pray, fast and do acts of mercy.
  • 3. Read the Scriptures regularly.
  • 4. Read good books, a little at a time.
  • 5. Practice silence, inner and outer.
  • 6. Cultivate communion with the saints.
  • 7. Be an ordinary person, one of the human race.
  • 8. Live a day, even a part of a day, at a time.
  • 9. Be honest, first of all with yourself.
  • 10. Be faithful in little things.
  • 11. Do your work, then forget it.
  • 12. Do the most difficult and painful things first.
  • 13. Face reality.
  • 14. Be grateful.
  • 15. Be cheerful.
  • 16. Be simple, hidden, quiet and small.
  • 17. Never bring unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • 18. Listen when people talk to you.
  • 19. Be awake and attentive, fully present where you are.
  • 20. Think and talk about things no more than necessary.
  • 21. Speak simply, clearly, firmly, directly.
  • 22. Flee imagination, fantasy, analysis.
  • 23. Flee carnal things at their first appearance.
  • 24. Don’t complain, grumble, murmur or whine.
  • 25. Don’t seek or expect pity or praise.
  • 26. Don’t compare yourself with anyone.
  • 27. Don’t judge anyone for anything.
  • 28. Don’t try to convince anyone of anything.
  • 29. Don’t defend or justify yourself.
  • 30. Be defined and bound by God, not people.
  • 31. Accept criticism gracefully and test it carefully.
  • 32. Give advice only when asked or when it is your duty.
  • 33. Be strict with yourself.
  • 34. Be merciful with yourself and others.
  • 35. Do nothing for people that they can do for themselves.
  • 36. Have a healthy, wholesome hobby.
  • 37. Have no expectations except to be fiercely tempted to your last breath.
  • 38. Endure the trial of yourself and your faults serenely, under God’s mercy.
  • 39. When you fall, get up immediately and start over.
  • 40. Get help when you need it, without fear or shame.