If there is a theme that might join our two readings together it might be said to be this: Develop an attitude of Gratitude.
Moses is reminding the people that they should be a people full of thanksgiving and gratitude and Jesus speaks of the importance of recognising the blessings we have and of living a life of gratitude and contentment. Being grateful is a characteristic we like to see in others and certainly to develop in our children, isn’t it? But there is something deeper and greater taking place here that goes beyond ‘good manners’. Thankful, grateful people have a different perspective on life. The Bible tells us to: ‘Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. For this is the will of Christ Jesus for you’ 1 Thes. 5:16-18
Why? Because when we do, our lives have a different focus – a different perspective – when we ‘frontload’ our lives with God things appear differently. Have you ever noticed the fact that we rarely need any help or practice in being grumpy? We do however, need to be ever mindful about being thankful.
I love it when scientific research finally catches up with what the Bible has been saying for thousands of years; for example: I was recently reading an article on some research that had revealed that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ generates better physical and mental health, develops relationships, reduces anger and aggression and helps you sleep better. Wonderful, if a little late in discovery. How great it is to know that God loves us and cares for us so much that these truths were laid down so long ago. They also help to create what might be called a ‘genuine church’ – a Happy, Praying and Thankful church.
Even amongst the turbulent and uncertain world we live in at the moment, we still have a great deal to be thankful for – when we thank God for all He has given us, we feel better, God receives praise and the enemy hates it. There is nothing the enemy despises more than a happy, thankful rejoicing Christian, so let’s help to shut him up and praise God more and more regularly.
The Christian Pastor and writer John Ortberg puts it like this: ‘Gratitude is more than making sure that God knows how much trouble He’s gone to for us – it’s so much more than that. It’s the gift God gives us that enables us to be blessed by all His other gifts. Without gratitude our lives degenerate into envy, dissatisfaction and complaints – taking what we have and always wanting more.’
Our lives will always have times of challenge, difficulty and sadness; times when life’s shadow will fall across our path, but here’s a truth; when you look to the sun, the shadow is always behind you but when you turn your back to the sun the shadow is always there in front of you – covering every step you take. I encourage you then, to look towards God’s Son with thanksgiving and to keep the shadows of life behind you. Let us free ourselves up, live the lives God intended us to and be known as a people of gratitude – Praising God, trusting Him and serving those around us. For when we look to God we will always see things differently.
Rev Dave Clark
Vicar of the Benefice of Upper Wensleydale