The definition of gratitude is “the state of being grateful.” And that my friends is where I get tripped up.
“The state of being grateful” implies a constant awareness of the blessings of that we receive everyday.
Several years ago when Ann Voskamp published One Thousand Gifts, I had friends who took the dare to record 1000 blessings, and they succeeded easily.
I started several times, and always got side tracked with my journal laid down somewhere so I could conveniently use the excuse “I’ll catch up when I find it.” And soon the good intention left my mind. I had difficulty maintaining the “state of being grateful”.
This past year I sat in a study of the disciplines of Jesus and learned I had to practice a discipline. I had to consistently repeat the discipline in order to acquire it.
To practice this state of gratitude, one needs to be consistently practicing being thankful.
When you are in a “state” you are not consciously aware of striving to maintain it. You practice it enough that it is a natural part of your being.
You know, it is real easy for me to be thankful for an end of a crisis, the end of a harrowing time, the good diagnosis, the great outcome, the successful completion of a project. Yes, I am real good about saying “thank you God” on those occasions.
Ann Lamott once said that there were only two prayers, “Help me Help me Help me” and “Thank You Thank You Thank You” ( and she just recently added a third prayer “WOW”).
Many a time I prayed the “Thank You Thank You Thank You” prayer with a sigh of relief, but aren’t those “thank You’s” an emergency prayer? A Thank You for the times you feel you got by the skin of your teeth? A Thank You for the uttermost relief that washes over you when things turned out ok.?
The practice of gratitude is to be constant, not just daily, as 1 Thessalonians 5:16 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you”.
Ann Voskamps writes, “We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace.”
“We give thanks to God not because of how we feel, but because of WHO HE is.”
That is the line drawn in the sand. Lord, thank You for everything that is in my path of this life You have given me. Whatever is given I know it is a good and perfect gift of Your will, for You are good all the time.