Gratitude is powerful

Published 6:15 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Early in my ministry while flying to the Republic of Panama on a preaching mission, I became somewhat anxious about flying such a long way over the ocean. Evidently, my older minister companion, who was seated beside me, became aware of my anxiety. He jokingly asked, “What are you worried about?”

I answered, “Oh, nothing really, just thinking about my family and the ocean down below.”

He responded, “I’m just grateful to be here. I suffered a heart attack not long ago and wasn’t sure whether or not I would be able to make it.” In that minister’s gratitude, and my own, I quietly overcame my anxiety.

The late John Claypool, noted theologian, preacher and author, stated, “It is gratitude more than anything else that is the difference between just making the best of life and making the most of life.”

There is tremendous power to be found in being grateful and in the exercise of gratitude. Let’s focus on it.

First, gratitude enables the joy of release. Gratitude is the channel through which the Divine releases the fears and anxieties in the human heart. Numbers of us know from our own experience that where there is gratitude worry and anxiety have waned.

Second, gratitude is awareness. Writing in her insightful book “Grateful,” Diana Buttler Bass writes, “Gratitude is gift and response.” Bass states that

David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, said, “Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness, and gratefulness is a measure of our aliveness.”

In other words, perceive grace and you will be grateful.

Third, gratitude is a choice. Two men were talking. One said to the other, “Thankful! What do I have to be thankful for? I can’t even pay my bills.”

Replied the other, “Then, man alive, be thankful you aren’t one of the creditors.”

Finally, gratitude is our hope and opportunity. Most of us know that we are safer and more joyful when we care for and do things for one another. As we get to know one another, work with one another and live in community with one another, we tend to become grateful for one another. And that exercise in gratitude becomes our hope and opportunity for a better present and future.

You see, gratitude defies anger, division, difference, unkindness, greed and evil. Gratitude calls us to live out our lives together in the plan and purposes of God, which is love, grace, justice, righteousness and peace.