There Is Much for Which to Be Grateful
TRULY, we are living in an era when complaints and causes of complaint are multiplying, and when multitudes are unthankful just as the apostle Paul foretold for these critical times. (2 Tim. 3:1, 2) Yet there is still much for which we can all be grateful, many gifts that come to us daily, things that are really satisfying and refreshing as long as we do not permit the spirit of selfishness and ingratitude to creep in and take control of our thinking.
The fact that many of the gifts that come to us each day are shared with all others of humankind is no reason to view them as though they were due us. All of God’s provisions for imperfect, sinful creatures should be viewed as undeserved kindnesses, and duly acknowledged as such. There are, for example, the sun and the rain that Jehovah God sends alike upon those who love him and those who deny him; also, the air we breathe and the fruits of the ground, all made available by a loving Creator.—Matt. 5:45; 2 Cor. 9:10.
How wonderful to be able to step out into the warmth of the sunshine and then later retreat into the cool shade of trees, or step from stuffy indoors into the fresh air outside! We have all enjoyed such experiences, not once but many times. But, are we grateful to God for them?
Think of the many things that delight the eye, with rest on one hand, and with stimulation on the other. The green velvet of a grassy slope or the colorful display of the sunset. Perhaps you have stretched out on the grass in some quiet glade and taken note of the way the foliage filters the sunlight with a sort of dappling effect. Then, too, there is the sight of snow-white clouds drifting lazily across the blue sky. You may even have seen the effects of a light wind drawing patterns on a field of uncut grain. How beautiful all these sights! Surely they should call forth thanksgiving to the One who made them all possible!
Sounds, too, can be so delightful, if we but give them attention. Not the raucous, artificial noises of industry, but the gay laughter of children at play, the rustle of leaves in the forest, the murmur of a brook, the patter of rain on the roof, the soft whisper of wavelets upon the beach, the chirp of a cricket, the wild laugh of a loon on some remote lake. All these and a multitude of other sounds communicate to the listener a variety of pleasant moods. Together with the gift of hearing, they are all generous provisions of Jehovah for our listening pleasure.
And is it not a fine thing that we have been equipped with a taste mechanism with which we can delight in all the subtle flavors of food? How different had we been made sensationless as to taste! Mealtime then would be just like stoking a furnace. Instead, the taste buds on our tongue detect and communicate to the mind a variety of sensations that so refresh and satisfy the physical body. Surely there is every reason to offer thanks to the Provider, not only for the things we eat, but also for the pleasure of eating he has made possible for us!
In the field of human relations we find many causes for gratitude. Is it not a grand thing that the Creator did not stamp out each human creature in the same mold, with the same appearance and the same personality? Instead, we note that each has his characteristic personality, never intended to be lost in the drab uniformity of a regimented mass. Genuine gratitude to the Creator on this score is demonstrated by those who take into account personality differences, and who do not expect others to conform to their own personal view in every matter.
In the home a grateful spirit can produce great happiness. When a husband comes home from work he does not have to note immediately the things his wife has failed to accomplish. Surely it is much more conducive to peace and relaxation in the home when he expresses gratitude and commendation for the things she has done, however small they may be! And she will be encouraged to do more. Certainly for wife and children a smile or some happy words are so much more upbuilding than a frown or a grunt.
Likewise with the wife. Is it not far better to offer the home-coming husband a warm, pleasant greeting, than to launch immediately into a long story about the day’s reverses and troubles? Surely the wife who appreciates her husband wants him to be glad to get home. Then certainly she will not pile up problems on top of those with which he has had to contend during the day. Why not first speak to him about the good things of the day?
Parents can also be grateful for children. Why view them as just a nuisance to be tolerated, when they are, in fact, an inheritance from Jehovah? (Ps. 127:3) Gratitude for such a legacy is demonstrated by those who rear and train their children with love, striving to inculcate in them also the spirit of gratitude. So, at mealtime for instance, the head of the household will give an excellent example to the children in expressing appreciation for the food served, even when some part of the meal is not up to his expectation. Complaints and sharp criticisms will only hurt, whereas expressions of appreciation and gratitude spur to better efforts.
Rather than permitting the mind to dwell upon the petty disappointments, the mistakes of others, the failure of plans, how satisfying and exhilarating to ponder the good and pleasant things that surround us and make some expression about them! Let us not put gratitude into a straitjacket by waiting to express it only when someone does us some special favor. Acknowledge the small services too. Be generous with commendation.
Truly, there is much for which we can be grateful even amid this selfish system of things. The grateful spirit, properly cultivated, will help us avoid the negative, the complaining and the critical attitudes and bring us great happiness and satisfaction in life.