Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
The following will also be published in The Vermilion Standard.
We live in a culture diluted by desire. In our relative excess, we incessantly desire what we don’t have even if it is something we clearly don’t need. This desire has led to an epidemic of discontentment. Much like Jesus’ parable of the man who wants to help his neighbour with the speck of dust in their eye while being ignorant of the log in his own, this epidemic is easy to see in others, but it also exists in us. This is our problem with desire; we see it in others while we blindly struggle with it.
This epidemic exhibits two symptoms. First is the disorientation of wants and needs. We become confused and disorientated with what we need and what we want, making poor choices as a result. Second, it creates a culture of worry. We worry about what we don’t have and we worry about what we do have. Worry becomes omnipresent, reminding us that, often, we don’t own the things we have but they own us.
The bad news is, this epidemic is pervasive. It is everywhere. We all want what we don’t have, leading to a mass hysteria of want and need confusion. This confusion is compounded with the onslaught of advertisers telling us that we should deserve the bigger TV, the larger house, the faster car, and the shinier diamond. We are drowning in want and need confusion and the current of desire is pulling us away from shore.
The good news is, there is a cure to the epidemic. It is a cure that takes time, effort and discipline but it is effective. Much like the farmer who cultivates his land to ensure healthy soil, we too can cultivate our hearts and reorient the direction of our desire. That cure, according to the Bible, is prayer, gratitude, and thankfulness. As we change the direction of our desire we begin to re-orientate our sense of want and need. As we cultivate an attitude of gratitude towards God we begin to filter our ceaseless thirst of wants replacing it with contentment, generosity, and peace. As the Bible teaches:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7, NIV
The Bible lays out an important cure for us that we all need to hear and begin to cultivate in our own lives. First, we need to put God at the center of our lives and bring our worries and confusion to Him. Second, we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude with God through thanksgiving. Third, we need to pray, bringing our worries and concerns to God. As we do this, God promises His peace and contentment in our lives. As we do this, not only will we grow in contentment but we will also grow in generosity.
Our lives are diluted by desire for stuff and we need to re-direct our desire toward God in our lives with thanksgiving and prayer leading to peace, contentment, and generosity. Allow God to redirect your desire and, with God’s help, begin to cultivate an attitude of gratitude. It is time to take the logs out of our own eye, seeing the world more clearly and helping others who have sawdust in theirs.