It’s the time of the year again when gifts come pouring into our lap, bills and coins go into circulation and people tend to be more emotional than any time of the year. Merry Christmas folks! Welcome to the season of gifts and Yuletide cheers!
But more than receiving gifts, this is the season when we need to embrace the attitude of gratitude more tightly. This is the season when we are highly gullible to think we deserve more. We expect, we assume, and if we don’t get what we want – we might end up sulking.
When I delivered a message on gratitude last Sunday for the Salt and Light Sundays Christmas party, I shared this story:
Two old friends met each other on the street one day. One looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?”
The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you: three weeks ago, my uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars.”
“That’s a lot of money.”
“But you see, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand dollars, free and clear.”
“Sounds to me that you’ve been very blessed.”
“You don’t understand!” he interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million from her.”
Now the man’s friend was really confused. “Then, why do you look so glum?”
“This week . . . nothing!”
Gift vs Entitlement
A gift is something we receive gratuitously, without any condition on our part. That is why the word “free gift” to me is redundant. If it is not free, if it comes with a condition, it is not a gift.
Receiving gifts on a regular basis makes us more expectant, to the point that we feel entitled for it. And when the regularity ceased, we feel robbed, hurt and even angry. The feeling of being entitled to receive something elevates us into a position of importance.
As children of God we are recipients of His daily grace – daily gifts from God. His grace offers us with a lot of things we can never provide for ourselves. These include our day to day provisions of food we set on our table, the money we use to buy our daily needs and all other material things we enjoy. It even extends to the things we seldom thank Him for – the air we breathe, the water we drink, our sanity, our ability to see, hear, listen and touch. These are gifts from God most of us enjoy regularly, until we almost feel entitled for it. We expect to receive these good things; take it away from us and we get upset.
Gratefulness over Thankfulness
Instead of sulking over the gifts we fail to receive, we should be thankful for the countless gifts we have already received in the past.
Yet again, more than being thankful for the gifts we receive, it is way better to cultivate an attitude of gratitude – that even if we fail to receive anything, even if circumstances fall short of our expectations, we are grateful.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. Psalms 9:1
Gratitude is an attitude that comes out of habitual thanksgiving. More often our thanksgiving are based and prompted by the good things we receive, but gratitude is evidenced both in good times and the bad. Like King David who expresses his gratefulness in whatever circumstance he is into, the more we meditate on God’s goodness and practice our thanksgivings even when the tides turn against us, gratefulness will naturally flow out of from us.
~ Author Unknown ~
Thanks for not having
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Thanks for lacking knowledge
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Thanks for difficult times
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Thanks for limitations
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Thanks for challenges
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Thanks for mistakes made
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Thanks for exhaustion
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made the effort.
Thanks for setbacks
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Thanks for troubles
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
Anyway, the phenomenal Maine Mendoza posted her thanksgiving on her Instagram account.
And this video has given me enough reasons to be grateful for what I enjoy in life. While I can still find time to complain over things I am not able to get, these children has shown the world what it means to be grateful and overwhelmingly joyful over things we usually consider normal and simple.
This Christmas, we got a lot of things to be thankful for. And let us start expressing our thanks until it becomes a habit, cultivating in us an attitude of gratitude.