I woke up thinking about gratitude. Gratitude is defined as "the quality of being thankful" and as "readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness" (Dictionary.com). Merriam-Webster says that it is "the feeling or showing thanks" or that it is the "feeling or showing thanks to someone for some helpful act." The extended definition states that gratitude is defined as:
- appreciative of benefits received
- expressing gratitude
- affording pleasure or contentment or pleasing
- pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated
The origin of the word comes from the Latin (gratus or grace). Grateful was first used in 1552, and is synonymous with giving thanks or with being thankful. Of course, grace means "unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification" (Merriam-Webster, 2016). It is a virtue, divine in sense since it stems from God. What is interesting about these two words is how closely grace and gratitude are related to one another. In more archaic forms, grace was known as "disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency." Clearly, there is at work in these words, grace and gratitude, both the giving and the receiving of kindness, goodness, or courtesy (deferment or preference).
According to the dictionary, gratitude can be practiced in numerous ways. We can express gratitude in our attitude, our behavior, and our language. Most of the time, we think of gratitude as a state of being, a way of responding to the good fortune we experience in life. For example, when we say we are grateful for someone or something, we mean thankful. So when we express gratitude -- we are giving thanks -- because someone or something has either comforted us or alleviated pain in our life. However, gratitude is more than just a response toward good things in our life; it can be an act of service. I believe that when we grasp the significance of practicing gratitude as an outward manifestation of inward grace, then gratitude becomes a powerful ally or weapon we can use to help bring peace and comfort to those who are suffering around us.
Practicing Gratitude Today
Today, I am choosing to practice gratitude. I am thankful for so many things, so many blessings in my life. Even though I don't have all my "ducks in a row," I do feel confident that I have everything in order, and that my life is proceeding down a path that aligns with the Lord's will, and with His ultimate plan. I believe that I am where I am meant to be today, that my life, the plans and my days are set and that I am following after the Lord in submission and obedience. I know that I can improve my attitude, improve the way I interact with others, and improve my overall perspective (what I think, what I do, and what I believe). I feel in control of my efforts, my responses, and while at times, I do lose my cool (I do, I admit it), I know that my heart's desire is to think, to do, and to believe (trust in, rely in, and abide in) the Lord with my whole heart. In truth, I desire to follow after Him, to seek Him diligently, and to abide in Him -- to rest, to trust, and to believe -- so that I can enjoy the blessings of the days, the gifts of His gracious hand, and use what He provides to me to bless others. Yes, today, I am choosing to be a blessing to others, to practice gratitude, and to be thankful in all matters, all things. I give Him praise, honor, and I seek to bring Him glory. He alone is worthy to be praised. He alone is worthy of our praise and our adoration! Selah!