Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. That is what God wants you to do. – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

The Power of Gratitude

When Erma Bombeck (writer) learned that she had breast cancer and would need a mastectomy, she was able to confront the situation with her usual good humor–until after the surgery. Then the reality of her loss began to trouble her. She cried every time she had to undress to take a shower, grieved that her days on the beach were over. She struggled with her reflection in the mirror. She snapped at her husband, “You just don’t get it, do you? This isn’t some little scar from a wart removal!

When Erma visited her doctor for a checkup, he asked her what was bothering her. After hearing her grumble about her disfiguring surgery, he said, “I think it’s time for my ‘you’re alive’ speech. You’re one of the lucky ones. Your cancer was small, and the lymph nodes are clean. Without regular checkups, you might not have been so lucky.”

After that sobering lecture, Erma began to appreciate the power of gratitude. She wrote, “Every time I forget to feel grateful…I hear the voice of an eight-year-old named Christian, who had cancer of the nervous system. When asked what she wanted for her birthday, she thought long and hard and finally said, “I don’t know. I have two sticker books and a Cabbage Patch doll. I have everything!’ The kid was right.”

When we are unable to explain the difficulties in our lives, we become frustrated and shake our fists at heaven, demanding why. In a sense, this attitude places us in judgment of God, declaring the things He has allowed to be unacceptable to us. Ultimately, if we are wise, we choose to “accept all things we cannot change.” At that point, our eyes are opened to the blessings in our lives, and we are able to say, “Thank You,” once again.

– Steve Arterburn

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference. Thomas Merton