BRADY COLUMN: Being thankful makes everything better

Published 9:30 am Friday, August 5, 2022

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Perhaps the single most famous speech given by a baseball player was given by New York Yankee first baseman, Lou Gehrig. Gehrig is remembered for playing in 2,130 consecutive games in 14 seasons with the New York Yankees. He compiled a lifetime batting average of .340 and batted in 150 runs or more in seven different seasons. In addition, he contracted a horrible disease, (ALS) that forced his retirement in 1939 and shortly thereafter took his life.

On this occasion, however, he stood at a microphone on a day when he was being honored. He took the time to thank the vendors, and ticket takers and workers who never got any recognition but who made his job possible. Then he said the words that still echo in our time. Lou Gehrig said, “Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”  As an American, I’m reminded to be thankful at a specific time of the year. As a person of faith, I’m reminded to always be thankful. At any rate, in this article, I want to say a few words about gratitude.

First, gratitude is recognition! On one occasion the late Scott Peck tells about having two checks sitting on his lap. One check was in payment for services rendered. The other check, however, was unasked for. It was an unanticipated donation.  Peck said he sat there with an earned meal on one knee, and a delicious surprise on the other. Now, right here we can review our understanding of grace. Here we have something earned and something unearned. The latter, of course, being grace. Grace is for free. And as Scott Peck observed, “Perceive grace and you will naturally feel grateful.”

Hear me now! The failure to see ourselves as sinners is the root cause of all ingratitude. On the other hand, to see ourselves as sinners and understand God’s grace (His love, forgiveness and second chance) is the key to a grateful heart.

Second, gratitude is a choice! While we cannot always determine the circumstances of our lives, we can determine our response to those circumstances. And, of course, one response is always the response of resentment, “Why did this happen to me?” While the other response is the response of gratitude, “What is there to be thankful for in this particular situation?” 

The noted scholar Matthew Henry was accosted by thieves and robbed of his valuables. He later wrote in his diary, “Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before.  Second, although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourthly, because I was glad I was robbed and not I was did the robbing.  Gratitude is a choice.

Third, gratitude is an opportunity! Someone has said that God has two dwelling places. One is in Heaven, and the other is in a grateful heart.  An opportunity for what? An opportunity to make someone else’s day! Most of us know how good it feels to receive gratitude.

Such affirmation is important to our health, happiness, and wholeness as human beings. And that is also true of others.  An oppprtunity to soften and make the world a better place. If there is any place where unkindness is broken in this world, it is the place where gratitude is expressed.  An opportunity to give God, God’s rightful praise! A few years ago I attended a banquet that honored a friend. A couple of other people were also being honored. One of those other honorees was from Pakistan. He made it big in business in this country. His business was listed in the Fortune 500. I wrote down his final remarks. He said, “This is a great country. I truly believe there’s a God up there who is blessing us all.” So do I!   Being thankful makes everything better!