Opinion Column

FAITH

Gratitude is a way of life

By Neil Ellis

We have just come through the season of Thanksgiving. A time of year when we 'give thanks' and respond with gratitude for the things we have received. Gratitude is deeply enmeshed in the Christian life. It reverberates throughout our every action, as we breath in and breath out gratitude shapes us. Gratitude for what God has done for us in Jesus Christ and gratitude towards those who enrich our lives.

Scripture is chock-full of passages about gratitude and thanksgiving. We find the most abundant source in the Psalms, where we find repeated passages about 'Giving thanks to God.' Gratitude is the act or state of being thankful. In order to be thankful, we first need to have received something that we perceive to have value.

In today's consumer society, which emphasises the disposable nature of products it can be difficult to express gratitude. The ability to express thanks is lost when the normal cycle is to replace items on a frequent basis. Perhaps the item which holds the most guilt is the mobile phone, with new versions available annually, our ability to appreciate what we have is lost as we focus more on what we will soon gain. We are no longer giving thanks for what we have, but are anxious about what we hope to receive. We have turned the act of giving thanks on its head, our perspective has shifted from an appreciation of the past to an anticipation of the future.

Our focus on receiving dilutes out ability to express gratitude in other ways. The anxious nature of the predominant culture has us on edge and suspicious, resulting in the failure to acknowledge genuine moments of thanksgiving. I have no illusions that we are thankful for the things that we have, but the entitled nature of always receiving the next new thing diminishes our ability to express gratitude.

Scripture encourages us to sing praises to God and offer thanksgiving, this is most evident in the Psalms. Psalm 100 reminds us that "It is God who has made us, that we are God's people, God's is good and God's mercy is everlasting." All things to be thankful for, all things worth expressing gratitude for.

Given the state of the world through existing conflicts, the threat of new ones, racial tension and the increased immorality we see from individuals in positions of power and influence it is perhaps time to slow down and express gratitude. To let family and friends know that their presence in your life is of value. Hearing words of thanks encourages all of us to put our best foot forward and illustrates a better way to live. Give thanks to God, for the great things God has done.

Rev. Neil Ellis is the minister of St. Andrew's Presbyterian, Cobourg (standrewscobourg.org).