OUR OPINION: Gratitude goes well with all circumstances

Daily Journal Editorial

• “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton

• “The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!” – Henry Ward Beecher

• “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus

• “There is not a more pleasing exercise of the mind than gratitude.” – Joseph Addison

• “Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Anonymous

• “Gratitude multiplies and perpetuates the enjoyment of blessings.” – Anonymous

• “For each new morning with its light/For rest and shelter of the night/For health and food, for love and friends/For everything Thy goodness sends.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

• “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (King David, 1 Chronicles 16:23)

• “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (St. Paul, Romans 1:21-22)

• “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (St. Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

All nice thoughts, no doubt. But when one reads the most alarming headlines of global chaos, when one opens an envelope and contemplates dimming prospects of a prosperous retirement, when one confronts a pessimistic diagnosis or when one simply can’t get along with one’s spouse, it’s not that easy to be grateful.

Like a lot of challenges with which believers wrestle, it is not easy – but it is simple.

One way is to remember that people of faith have faced far worse than most of what we endure.

Joseph was sold into slavery and saved whole nations from starvation.

Paul and Silas were falsely accused, beaten and thrown into jail, yet they offered hymns and prayers and were miraculously delivered.

Horatio Spafford lost his fortune in the Great Chicago Fire and lost his four daughters in a shipwreck in the North Atlantic. In nearly the same place where they died, he penned one of the great hymns of Christendom, “It Is Well with My Soul.”

Even today, many believers suffer loss of property, incarceration or martyrdom just to follow the dictates of their consciences, often with words of thanksgiving on their lips.

It also engenders gratitude to remember some of Paul’s most well-known words: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

“All things” covers a lot of territory, from burnt toast, misplaced homework and flat tires to personal bankruptcy, the deaths of loved ones and even national calamity.

The realization that, for those who love God, everything ultimately works out in our favor is surely enough to inspire deep gratitude.

That makes it simple.

It’s still not easy.