Pray for Gratefulness
By Randy Kosloski
Even before he was born we knew his name was Hudson, it was the
only name that we could agree on. On the day he was born I
remember very well thanking God for his health and his existence
in my world. I was thankful for nothing more than the gift of
him. At the time I did not understand a portion of what that
gift would be, but I was thankful just the same. I also remember
thinking that I would never forget that feeling of gratefulness
and that I would never again take the gifts in my life for
granted. I am sitting in my home at this moment, while my son
watches a baby worship DVD, he is spellbound so it gives me a
moment to reflect, and as I ponder my feelings on that day I
know now that I have lost my gratefulness and, in turn, lost
intimacy with God. As I try to make sense of that loss I realize
that I cannot explain why my gratefulness is so fleeting yet I
can explain the familiar selfishness that replaces it.
Gratefulness is a gift from God and the more I allow it to
escape the further I fall from the height that God has for me.
I cannot explain the loss of gratefulness, because in the moment of blessing my gratefulness feels so enormous. Staring into my son's face for the first time after spending nine months, wondering, praying, and hoping, I was genuinely grateful for this incredible gift, and gratefulness filled me. But like so many times before gratefulness escaped me despite the tremendous original impact it had. It faded into the sense of entitlement and selfishness that has plagued me from the very first step of my Christian walk. What's worse is that gratefulness not only fades but also is replaced by a preoccupation with getting more. I have come to realize that my lack of gratefulness is disobedience because without gratefulness I desecrate God's blessing and I place faith in myself to know what I need and how to get it.
Instead of being grateful for what I have I am unfaithful with it and selfishly use it to try and gain more. That reaction is not a consequence of blessing it is a choice, selfishness over gratefulness, because God bestows gratefulness to me but I seek out selfish desires. When my son was born I did not have to think about it or reason it out, I was overcome with the blessing and gratefulness sprang up from the heart I gave to Christ. The selfishness took time to take root, it took the world eating away at my joy, the culture telling me that there is more in life than what I had, and it took my own desires building within to erase the intimacy with God that gratefulness had given me. The choice of selfishness over gratefulness becomes a choice between relationship with God and the positive perception from others. So often I am still to weak to choose against the comforts and admiration in this world.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul writes "We are not trying to please men, but God who tests our hearts." If I could simply be strong enough to keep my eyes on God and what he has for me, what could I accomplish for God's sake. What if I really saw every possession and every person in my world as a gift from God, how could I mistreat them? If I saw my wife as a gift from God how could not cherish her. If I saw my computer as a gift from God, how could I use it as a vessel for anything impure? I think this idea runs through our talents, skills, and opportunities as well. If I truly believed these were gifts from God I would be grateful and I would try everyday single day to make the most of them for the sake of the One who is guiding my life through these very talents, skills and opportunities. Gratefulness would be a platform for respect, for appreciation, and for love. These characters would then bring me closer to God, and make me a better witness for Jesus Christ, and a better servant in His Kingdom.
It is an act of faith really to be grateful; to put our faith in the God who provides rather than to put faith in ourselves. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." (Proverbs 3:5) Being grateful for what we have is believing that it is what God intended for us. Recklessly trust God to provide, accept His gifts and forget what we have learned about we need in this world. Be encouraged by God's providence. Gratefulness helps us to be responsible with our gifts, share our gifts, rather than hoard and ignore them in an effort to get more. Everyday we must refuse to accept the confusing and fleeting nature of gratefulness we must find our way back to it, and savour gratefulness; perhaps, in part, by imagining what could accomplish through it. Hudson is asleep now if I get close I can hear his sleeping breaths; pray that God helps me to remain grateful for that.
Randy Kosloski is a Christ follower,
He is also a Canadian social worker living in rural Ottawa ON.