An Attitude of Gratitude
Let me tell you of man who was on death row:
The next footsteps in the corridor, he knew, might be those of the guards taking him away to his execution. His only bed was the hard, cold stone floor of the dank, cramped prison cell. Not an hour passed when he was free from the constant irritation of the chains and the pain of the iron manacles cutting into his wrists and legs.
Separated from friends, unjustly accused, brutally treated—if ever a person had a right to complain, it was this man, languishing almost forgotten in a harsh Roman prison. But instead of complaints, his lips rang with words of praise and thanksgiving!
The man was the Apostle Paul—a man who had learned the meaning of true thanksgiving, even in the midst of great adversity. Earlier, when he had been imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God and the Father:” (Ephesians 5:19-20).
Think of it: Always giving thanks for everything—no matter the circumstances! Thanksgiving for the Apostle Paul was not a once-a-year celebration, but a daily reality that changed his life and made him a joyful person in every situation.
Thanksgiving—the giving of thanks—to God for all His blessings should be one of the most distinctive marks of being a Catholic. We must not allow a spirit of ingratitude to harden our heart and chill our relationship with God and with others.
Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.
In Luke 17:15, we read of ten lepers who were healed. But only one of them returned to the Lord to thank Him and to glorify God. When they were in need, they had all raised their voices asking for mercy. But after they were healed, nine were thoroughly ungrateful for the benefit they received. Only one raised his voice in thanksgiving.
There must have been thousands of others as well who were healed in Israel who never bothered to thank the Lord. But this Samaritan man returned and with a loud voice thanked the Lord.
Jesus appreciated the man for this spirit of gratitude that he manifested. And because the Samaritan gave thanks, Jesus gave him something more. He said to the Samaritan, “Your faith has saved you.” (vs 19). The other nine got only physical healing.
This man was a despised Samaritan, but he got what the other nine respectable Jews did not get...salvation.
Today, ingratitude and thanklessness are far too common. Children forget to thank their parents for all that they do. Common courtesy is scorned. We take for granted the ways that others help us. Above all, we fail to thank God for His blessings. Just like the Samaritan leper, you get more from the Lord when you thank Him for His blessings.
Ingratitude is a sin, just as surely as is lying or stealing or immorality or any other sin condemned by the Bible.
One of Saint Pauls indictments against rebellious humanity is that “When they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, or given thanks” (Romans 1:21). An ungrateful heart is a heart that is cold toward God and indifferent to His mercy and love. It is a heart that has forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything.
From one end of the Bible to the other, we are commanded to be thankful. In fact, thankfulness is the natural outflowing of a heart that is attuned to God. The psalmist declared, “Sing ye to the Lord with praise and thanksgiving: sing to our God upon the harp.” (Psalm 147:7). Paul wrote, “And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:15). A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.
Why should we be thankful? Because God has blessed us, and we should be thankful for each blessing.
Before I conclude let me remind you of some things we should be grateful for:
Thank God for the Material Blessings That He Gives You
We seem never to be satisfied with what we have—rich or poor, healthy or sick. But what a difference it makes when we realize that everything we have has been given to us by God! King David prayed, “Both riches and honor come from you … And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. … For all things come from you” (1 Chronicles 29:12-14 paraphrased).
Thank God for the People in Your Life
It is so easy to take people for granted, or even to complain and become angry because they do not meet our every wish. But we need to give thanks for those around us—our spouses, our children, our relatives, our friends and others who help us in some way.
The Christians in Corinth were far from perfect, but Paul began his first letter to them by saying, “I give thanks to my God always for you” (1 Corinthians 1:4). When a group of believers (whom Paul had never met) came out to greet him as he approached Rome, we read that “when he saw them, he gave thanks to God, and took courage.” (Acts 28:15). Thank God for those who touch your life.
Thank God in the Midst of Trials and Even Persecution
We draw back from difficulties, yet not one of us is exempt from some kind of trouble. In many parts of the world it is dangerous even to be a Christian because of persecution.
And yet in the midst of those trials we can thank God, because we know that He has promised to be with us and that He will help us. We know that He can use times of suffering to draw us closer to Himself: “My brethren, count it all joy, when you shall fall into divers temptations; Knowing that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” (James 1:2-3).
Thank God Especially for His Salvation in Jesus Christ
God has given us the greatest Gift of all—His Son, who died on the cross and rose again so that we can know Him personally and spend eternity with Him in heaven: “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
Thank God for His Continued Presence and Power in Your Life
When we come to Christ, it is not the end but the beginning of a whole new life! He is with us, and He wants to help us follow Him.
In ourselves we do not have the strength that we need to live the way God wants us to live. But when we turn to Him, we discover that “It is God who worketh in us, both to will and to accomplish, according to his good will.” (Philippians 2:13).
In conclusion I would like to recommend to everyone the Prayer book, Blessed Be God. Blessed Be God is a complete traditional Catholic prayer book, containing regular and special prayers, popular devotions, favorite novenas, meditations and readings from The Holy Bible and The Imitation of Christ, Epistles and Gospels for Sundays and Holydays. But the thing I wanted to zero in on pertaining to this message is the fact that in the Blessed Be God there are prayers of Thanksgiving for every day of the week. I would encourage you to pray these prayers everyday. Maybe even twice a day.
Let us be more like the Samaritan leper, let us “Give thanks always for all things” (Ephesians 5:20). In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost...amen .