Have you thought about the difference between "giving thanks" and "being thankful"? Today's Worship Quote of the Week directs our thoughts to the spiritual attitude of gratitude. The author, Henri Nouwen, writes about the prodigal son's older brother.
Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.
Gratitude, however, goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.
Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices of forgiveness and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.
There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: "You are with me always, and all I have is yours."
- Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming, Image Books/Doubleday, 1994.
Dear Lord, thank you again for your steady and lavish (prodigal) love. Protect me from a spirit of resentment, and nurture in me a deep sense of gratitude for all that is mine because of my relationship with you. Amen!
Have a great week!
To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.