Gratitude is contagious. However, so is ingratitude. Over the years I have noticed this to be true in every walk of life. Youth ministries, work places, classrooms and homes are all impacted by the attitudes we choose to have.
In just a few hours I am going to a funeral for a 47-year old single mother who passed away from cancer. She leaves behind two daughters and a teenage son. Through this time, the family has come back together and become stronger than it has been in years.
Pain and loss touch every person. No one is immune. I’ve heard it said that, “We can not control what happens to us, but we always have control over our response.” This is so true. Gratitude is not about feelings or circumstances, it is the reflection of a mature heart.
Gratitude is a choice. I’ve found that anyone can find the negative in life. It’s not difficult, and in many ways, it’s even natural. We all suffer through pain, disappointments and adversity, but we choose our response.
For years, this family chose to bicker and fight about things that really didn’t matter. In many instances, they were downright selfish. I believe that they had forgotten the gift that they had in one another.
The same is true for us. We often allow frustration and difficulty to control our perspective, and when we see through the prism of hurt, we begin to create a narrative that fits our viewpoint. This usually leads to a feeling of discontentment or even rebellion, and it is manifested through constant complaining, excessive amounts of arguing and out and out insubordination.
We become miserable people by our own making, not because of our circumstances. We infect others with the same disease and feel we now have reason to justify our poor attitude.
On the flip side, gratitude chooses where to aim it’s focus. It doesn’t ignore hardships, but it looks past them… to something, and for the Christian, to Someone greater. A grateful person recognizes that their love may have been tested, but still remains. They realize that things could be much worse. And above all, they understand that we were not created solely for this world.
The reality is that we are an incredibly blessed people. We may not love everything about everyone, but we have everything we need. Today, make sure to give God thanks and watch how those around you begin to change!
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