An Attitude of Gratitude

Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.”

Let’s all say that together. “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

“I’m thankful for my cancer.” That’s what one woman said this past Tuesday, at the end of our beautiful Thanksgiving service at our Church – the Akathist “Glory to God for all things.” I asked everyone to tell me one thing they are grateful for, and this woman, who was so afraid when she found out she had cancer a year ago, got up and said, “I’m thankful for my cancer because it has made me appreciate everything in life, even the smallest things I would always take for granted. It has made me a better person.” When things are going well, too often we don’t appreciate all the blessings of life. How about when we face the great challenges of life? We all have to learn to complain less and learn to see the blessings all around us, and thank God for each and every day of our lives!

Let’s all say, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

Do we have the eyes to see God’s blessings all around us?

Think about this past week. How many of us went to the supermarket to shop for thanksgiving? Did we leave that supermarket filled with gratitude - gratitude for all the workers who are always so helpful in serving us? And what about the abundance of food that is available to us? How about for the resources we have to provide for our families so that we can have such meals of abundance not only on Thanksgiving, but every day.

Thanksgiving meals symbolize the abundance of blessings we have in America. One need only shop occasionally in a Super Market to feel gratitude for all we have. I remember not too long ago, after the fall of communism, when some Albanian immigrants came to America from their communist lands. When I asked these people what impressed them the most about the United States, I often heard the same response, “The supermarkets! We have never seen such a variety and abundance of food as in the supermarkets!” Something we utterly take for granted.

Let’s all say, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

A couple days before Thanksgiving, I had the blessing of delivering 45 beautiful Thanksgiving Baskets and turkeys to families that appreciated some help for their holiday meals. As I was giving out these turkeys and baskets, I kept thanking God for all those in our Church Family who donated the turkeys and who put together such beautiful baskets of love. Then I thanked God for the opportunity to offer these gifts of love to families that could use the help. I truly experienced the words of our Lord, when He said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Walking away from each family, I thanked God for that blessing to share our abundance.

Let’s all say, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

We are trying to cultivate this spirit of joyous giving and create an attitude of gratitude in our Church in MA through a radical and exciting Challenge. We kicked off our year-long 100th Anniversary celebration with what we are calling the “Good and Faithful Steward Challenge.” Imagine, this past Sunday our Church gave away $30,000 to our parishioners! On our traditional Stewardship Sunday, instead of asking our parishioners to fill out a stewardship card, we told them we had a gift for them. We gave each steward of our Church a gift of $300/$200/$100 and asked them to use this gift to glorify God. We want them to discover the joy of giving. We want to create an atmosphere of generosity. We want everyone to understand well WHO WE ARE as Orthodox Christians and as the Church. We are people who have been blessed and who are so filled with gratitude for all we have, that we want to share our blessings with others! We are blessed so that we bless others. Here lies the key of understanding gratitude. God blesses us, and we are so grateful for all His blessings that we joyously share His blessings with others!

Let’s all say, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

Our Christian faith proclaims Good News of God’s unconditional, unending, intimate love – a divine love which surpasses all other blessings; A love that forgives us our countless and continual sins. A love that values each of us and cherishes us in our uniqueness. A love that heals us from our deepest brokenness, loneliness and illness. A love that doesn’t abandon us in our final moments of life but gives us hope and victory over death itself. Our faith offers a love that continues into eternity!

When we truly understand our Christian faith, and sincerely walk with Jesus Christ allowing His Spirit to dwell richly within our hearts, an attitude of gratitude becomes an obvious and beautiful fruit of our faith. Of course, the opposite is true as well. An unwillingness or indifference to expressing gratitude reveals a spiritual illness. One’s inability to thank God for our daily blessings, and to thank those around us who bless us with their words, their actions, and their lives, is a serious sign of spiritual pride and sickness!

Let’s all say, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

God’s will for us is to be filled with joy and thanksgiving. His will is NOT for us to complain about life, to grumble about what we don’t have, to whine about our circumstances, or to compare how others may have something we don’t have. Our Lord Jesus wants us to face life with gratitude.

How beautiful it is to live with an attitude of gratitude. If we can maintain such a spirit, it transforms our whole perspective on life. We won’t focus on what we don’t have, or on what others have. Instead, we thank God for each and every blessing, and strive to help those who don’t have what we have! We give thanks to God for life itself; for the world around us; for nature and beauty; for the love of family and friends; for health and well-being; for our Lord Jesus Christ and His beloved Church; for faith and the meaning of life it gives us; for the opportunity to experience the Kingdom of God here and now.

Living lives of gratitude means even thanking God when we face the unexpected and tumultuous challenges and tragedies of life, for when we face life’s challenges with gratitude, we will learn new perspectives and grow to new heights.

Let’s all say, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

As we celebrate our national holiday of Thanksgiving, it’s a great time to reflect on what role GRATITUDE plays in our daily lives.

I often suggest to people to cultivate a simple yet powerful habit at the beginning of every day, a habit which will help us cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Before we get out of bed each morning, make the sign of the cross and thank God for 5 things in our lives. Thank God for people we know, experiences we have, blessings we receive. Five new things each day. This habit will instill an attitude of gratitude within us!

Let’s all say one final time, “Lord, help me to have an “Attitude of Gratitude.””

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There is something special about the spirit of Christmas that inspires people to be more generous and more giving! Love is in the air during this holy season!

 

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