I just received news about a close family friend that unexpectedly passed away. It came as a big shock to me and to his family. What made this news really poignant was I had just seen him about two months ago at an anniversary party. It had been several years since I had seen him and it was so wonderful to catch up with him.
Life always has a way of waking us up and reminding us of the brevity of our days. In many ways this past year has been very challenging on many fronts to my own family and many families all across our country. The holidays can be particularly painful reminder of our losses and what we do not have or what is wrong with our lives.
We know we should be grateful but no one really knows what we going through – or do they? Recently I read a story of a woman who survived 9/11 and lived to tell about it. When 9/11 happened she recounted how the only way she could survive that awful time was to start a gratitude journal. Each day she would take the time to list in her journal the things for which she was grateful. She expressed that this experience alone transformed her life.
Maybe we need to revisit gratitude in our own life. When the apostle Paul penned the words “in everything give thanks” for this is God’s will, he gave us much more than a command. He gave us solace for our souls. I believe gratitude can be one of the most life-changing forces at work in our life. It is a powerful force because it changes us. It opens us up to new possibilities and solutions. It allows us to see what is right about our life and to see other things that are good, valuable and precious that we have missed in our pain or narrow focus. It enlarges our view and in turn reciprocates other things to be grateful for. It is true that the more we are grateful, the more we have to be grateful for.
I don’t know what season of life you are in this Thanksgiving season, but one thing I do know. A grateful heart is an open heart – open to the future and open to a God who holds the future. I hope this Thanksgiving you will open your heart once more to gratitude and in doing so you will have the courage to move ahead to even brighter days.