By Amber Kinloch
There’s lots of talk about gratitude nowadays. Psychologists and others routinely preach about its benefits as regards mental health, physical health, etc. One frequently comes across advice to cultivate gratitude by keeping a journal, writing “thank you” notes, and the like.
This is well and good, but gratitude runs deeper for a Christian. Gratitude isn’t merely a positive emotion or a personality trait; it is a virtue. It’s also one of the four types of prayer, as well as a gateway to the interior life. Consider:
- A Christian is grateful because he recognizes that every good comes from God. Thus, by practicing gratitude, we naturally become more aware of God’s Presence in our lives.
- As we become more aware of God’s Presence, we perceive His Divine Providence at work, protecting us from harm and drawing good out of evil. We see more deeply how good God is. Our sense of gratitude strengthens, as does our trust.
- Consequently, we grow more optimistic and less prone to discouragement, frustration, and despair—all forms of pride.
- Likewise, we lean on God more. This serves to shield us from the other primary form of pride—presumption, where we act as though we have no need of God.
- We also learn to judge others in a better light. We see how much good they do and sympathize more with their failings and weaknesses. We seek to be generous in offering them praise, encouragement, and thanks to help them on to Heaven.
- In seeing God’s goodness, we grow more courageous in examining ourselves. We look deep within at the dark spots in our souls, braced by the knowledge that He is here not to condemn, but to help and to heal.
- Still, we’re grieved by our failings in view of God’s unbounded love. No longer do we pass over our defects or make light of them. Pained by the sins we’ve committed, we seek God’s forgiveness.
- That’s not enough, though. Once the burden of our sins is lifted, we can’t go on as before. We thank God once again and make definite resolutions to improve. True, we’ll almost certainly fall again, but we do not lose our hope or peace. God is with us, and we know He won’t abandon us if we try sincerely to do His Will.
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.