Wellness coaches, counselors, and your social media feed all urge you to be grateful. Say “thanks” for what you have, because you have more than you realize. Say “thanks” for the people in your life, because you don’t want to neglect them while you seek new opportunities and adventures. Say “thanks” for your body, because you don’t just have it worse than someone, you also have it better than someone.
But you need to know something very dangerous about gratitude.
Gratitude creates a question your soul will want you to answer.
When I was in sixth grade, I couldn’t muster up the courage to directly tell Allison that I was head-over-heels for her. Instead, on Valentines Day, I wrote an elaborate love sonnet in a Transformers Valentines Day Card (true story), signed “Your Secret Admirer” and put it on her desk when she wasn’t looking. Then, I rushed back to my desk and waited to watch her open it. When she did, my heart jumped out of my chest when I saw that reading it made her…smile!
Of course, she immediately started scanning the room to see if she could perceive who it was from. I just looked blankly over her head to the chalkboard—never dropping a hint that I was her hopeless romantic. To this day, she’ll never know it was me. Not the best plan if I wanted to live happily ever after with Allison, but it was a start.
She knew she was loved! But, it begged the question: by whom?
Yes. Say “thanks”. But…to whom? Who are you talking to?
Maybe you’re not talking to anyone. When you say “thanks”, maybe what you’re really saying—what it really means—is “Wow, I got lucky. I just so happen to have what I need and some of what I want.” If nothing or no one provided that for you, great! But don’t think about it too hard. If you’re just "lucky", the odds won’t always be in your favor.
The real gift of a grateful life is that it reveals a Giver.
Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.*
What if what you are thankful for in your life (whether you estimate it to be much or little) is the evidence of a God who can’t help but give to you? Do you know what it might mean for your existence if today isn’t the result of chaos and chance, but intention, desire and boundless generosity?
You are not lucky. You are loved.
Today, be grateful for life. For the air in your lungs. For music. For laughter. For that hug. For your intellect and your memories. But you’ll want more. Don’t be surprised if your soul starts scanning around searching for the One who loved you that much.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
“God, today I will choose to believe that whatever good I see, smell, taste, touch or feel isn’t accidental. It’s your whisper to me, your poem, your valentine. You want more for me than what I’ve got and what I’ll get. You want me to know You, the Giver.”
*Paul’s first letter to Timothy, chapter 6, verses 17–19, emphasis mine