Gratitude is crucial but not natural.
It has to be learned by mindful practice.
It is more than the conditioned response of "thank you." It is the cultivation of a spirit of thanksgiving, no matter the circumstances.
As the Apostle Paul, said to the Philippians, in chapter four:
6 by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, beloved, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things
11 Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have.
12 I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need.
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Those who choose to orient their lives in an attitude of gratitude have the most meaningful lives. No matter the hardships they face, they learn to be content and grateful for their blessings. They focus on what is commendable and excellent, and grow in generosity toward others.
Peace Presbyterian Church spends four to six weeks every autumn focusing on gratitude, because we believe it is such a key element in the Christian life.
Being grateful to God is at the heart of worship -- loving God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.
Being grateful for other people is at the heart of loving the neighbor -- whether the neighbor is a family member or a friend or a stranger.
Every year we try to think of ways to build gratitude -- to encourage each person in the Peace community to count their blessings; to focus on abundance instead of scarcity; to combat anxiety -- the gratitude killer; to appreciate the simple gifts of life; and to grow in generosity and trust, the fruit of a soul filled with gratitude.
There is great power, joy and contentment for those who are satisfied they have been given enough -- enough love, enough time, enough money.
As theologian/mystic Meister Eckhart said in the 13th century: If the only prayer you aid in your life was, 'Thank you,' that would suffice."
With some inspiration from the song by Matt Redmon, we are counting all the reasons we have to bless the Lord, whose love is rich and whose heart is kind.
We will surely find 10,000 reasons for our hearts to sing.
The Rev. Elizabeth M. Deibert, Pastor, Peace Presbyterian, 10902 Technology Terrace, Lakewood Ranch FL 34211 firstname.lastname@example.org 941-753-7778. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.