ADVANCE Happy New Year! We welcome 2019 in gratitude for all the blessings we received in 2018. “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps. 106:1). Gratitude fills our heart as we realize the wisdom and forethought God has in giving us what we need. If we don’t have it, perhaps we don’t need it. If God wants us to have something, we remember that nothing is impossible with God. What we have is shared with us by God and we appreciate his trust in us to be stewards of the good things of life. Our thanks to God are an offering in itself. It is our way of responding to the relationship founded upon God’s love.
Most often we only see the things WE DON’T HAVE and fail to appreciate the THINGS THAT WE HAVE thus bitterness and resentment characterizes the way we live each day. So let us begin this coming New Year by being grateful for all the blessings we have received in 2018 so that we chart our course in 2019 with a smile in our heart.
Indeed, God has given us every single thing in our life. Thus we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We should realize how God’s action and control has made everything happen in our life. Gratitude is born out of trust because the ultimate trust is letting go of the control. God is in control. When you realize that God is in control and He has given everything as a gift, gratitude is born.
The opposites of gratitude are greed and envy. Greed and envy are qualities in our world that are destructive to gratitude because greed and envy want more, more, more. With gratitude we say, “I am not trying to seek what I don’t have. Rather, I appreciate what I already have.” It changes the focus. It’s like taking a 180-degree turn in gratitude. You start seeing a different picture.
Thus, we say, “I have this and I have that.” In focusing on the things we don’t have our desire is filled with covetousness, with avarice or with wanting more. But in appreciating what we have we begin to say, “I don’t need so much. I can live with less.” That’s what gratitude does. It helps us realize we can have less. We don’t have to have all that we want. Instead, we say “I have enough. In fact, I have too much already. Look at all God’s given me!” We start to take an inventory of everything we have and we say “I have more than I’ve ever needed!” Then we begin to realize, when we compare what we have to what other people have, that: “I am blessed. I am truly blessed.”
So when people ask me for what I am truly grateful in 2018 my straight answer is Faith, Family and Friends. The greatest gift is our relationship with God and our loved ones. Faith and People are more important than things. We come to accept that God has given us just what we need. We come to believe that God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. God’s way of providing is for our own good. Our detachment from material goods places them in their proper perspective. We appreciate them for what they are -- a gift.
So allow me to express such gratefulness by sharing a poem I wrote in thankful appreciation to all of you for making my 2018 truly meaningful that I can look forward to a prosperous 2019 in hopeful anticipation and joy:
Despite Life’s problems and trials, we find solace in support and concern …
So celebrate the Gift of Family.
Amidst Life’s loneliness and isolation, solace is there in companionship …
Let’s celebrate the Gift of Friendship.
There are mistakes and errors in judgment, yet enlightenment awaits somewhere…
The Gift of Learning, let us embrace.
In sickness and in frailty, there always wait healing and tender care …
For the Gift of Good Health, be grateful then.
Though Life’s full of lies and propaganda, sincerity and honesty still remain …
Let’s treasure then the Gift of Truth.
Through Life’s heartaches and bitter tears, intimacy and romance have always stayed …
For the Gift of Love, let’s all be glad.
In Life’s temptation and tribulation, we find refuge in pray’r and in silence …
Let’s be thankful for the Gift of Faith.
This is LIFE with all its UPS and DOWNS … There’s no template for a perfect one.
Celebrating and enjoying it for what it is is a free choice for you and me.
Everything we have is a gift. God gives and we receive. Then on our part we learn how to give. Just as God gives us everything, we too, need to learn to give as part of this spirituality. This is not an intellectual process. These are actions that come from our heart. This is very moral. So in this spirituality, gratitude means we need to be thankful. You cannot just think thankfulness. We have to act out being thankful. Again, Advance Happy New Year and May God bless us all.
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