photos and writings by June Friesen
September 21, 2022. World Gratitude Day is celebrated on September 21 annually. This day aims to remind us of the importance of expressing gestures of thanks and appreciation.
“Appreciation is a worldwide practice today and a personal one that we can all use to improve our lives — but it goes back to 1965. World Gratitude Day was invented by Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual leader and meditation teacher. It was conceived at a Thanksgiving dinner in the United Nations’ meditation room.” (World Gratitude Day from National Day website)
It was first observed Worldwide in 1966. Maybe this is the first time you have heard about this day. Or maybe you had never realized how it came to be acknowledged as a worldwide celebration. If I am honest, I have come to believe as well as I try to practice every day as a day to be grateful. In so many ways, particularly in North America, we have lost our attitude of appreciation and gratitude. How often does one hear, ‘I deserve better,’ or ‘I should have a better life,’ etc. as opposed to being grateful for one’s breath moment by moment as well as so much else that we often take for granted and even at times think that we deserve. So what are some ways we may consider today to make gratitude a way of life? Some questions we might include are: What are the negatives that you dislike in your life? As well, one needs to consider: what are the positives in your life? What are the things that you dislike about yourself yet maybe they are signs of something positive? What are some things that I take for granted that are really blessings/gifts?
Let me share personally about something in my life – a real negative from the human perspective yet it was how God got my attention as a 17-year-old teenager and set me on His path for my life. You see I had a path in place but I was so far off track with God, and if I am honest – I was really angry at God. I was going to show Him and everyone else just how angry I was and how I was going to turn my back on everyone of them, God included. I had to quit my senior year in high school and graduated one year later. This also changed my course of further education – instead of Nursing college first and then maybe Bible College it was reversed. This whole revolution in my life allowed me to meet my husband from 2,000 miles away, in another country and we have been married over 50 years. The medical world was able to treat my disease and get it under control yet through my twenties and thirties I had to take medication as precautionary.
Fast forward to when my two sons were in their 30’s both were diagnosed with thyroid cancer – which may or may not be a result of the medication I was taking to keep my body in check medically. Now, why do I share this story? Because I have learned that gratitude has helped me see that, despite the negatives in my life story God has taken them and made beauty from them which leads me to the passage from the Scripture on gratitude first of all from when Jesus healed the ten lepers.
Taking a good look at them, Jesus said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough.
How often have I gone around with an ungrateful spirit and a grumbling attitude when in fact God has blessed me with infinite blessings – and quite honestly way beyond what I could ever pay Him back for or what I deserve, and no way can I say I have earned them. Here I believe Jesus wants the cleansed lepers to bring glory to Him and to help others see what God is doing in and through the life of Jesus as He walked upon this earth. Yet, instead so many became complainers, ungrateful and even set about trying to get rid of Jesus – to the point of trying to trap Him and kill Him. One more scripture from the writings of Paul:
Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!”
Challenging but beautiful words: caring for others is more than just meeting the bare essentials (often bare essentials is defined differently by many) so that in itself can be a struggle. God gifts all of us differently so that we can bless and care for the wider needs of those in need so they too can have hearts of gratitude. Most often we think of providing food for people yet shelter, health care, adequate clothing, job training emotional and mental support as well are needed. When God gifts us with opportunity to bless and help it is not about asking them five questions to see if they qualify or to ask for them to say a certain prayer or to ask them to come to our church. No, we should be grateful we can help them and also encourage them to live their lives in a grateful manner. Many, many years ago we got to know of a few homeless people because they often were in a park within walking distance of our church. They knew the last Sunday of every month we had a potluck – and soon learned that we would invite them in to share. As a church we learned how to love them in a more complete way – and the changes that happened to all of us from the church, as well as those from the homeless community, were incredible. Several were able to get off the streets, get the assistance they needed, find jobs etc. I remember when I first met up with one of the ladies and I offered her a bowl of warm soup on a cold day – she asked if she could pray for me. I responded, “okay,” not knowing what to expect. She took my hands in her hands (her hands were so cold and so rough) – she lifted them towards heaven and prayed a prayer of gratitude towards God as well as a blessing – my friends so many people are grateful for the little things yet how often do we ignore and thus deprive someone of something so simple. Let us consider today – how can you and I first of all show gratitude for all we have? And second, how can we reach out so others around us and in the world too can join us sincerely in a World Day of Gratitude?
LIVING IN AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
God, you have shown us from the beginning of creation how to have a grateful heart,
As you created the world and all that is within as well as upon the earth –
You took time to observe each day with gratitude for what You created.
Jesus, too, lived an example of gratitude when He was here on this earth –
He gave thanks before the feeding of the thousands,
He gave thanks before He served the Last Supper to His disciples,
He gave thanks for the times that You, His Father hid the truth about His identity from His enemies,
Yes, Jesus encouraged those he helped in any way to be thankful –
He also taught His disciples to be thankful.
Today we have much to be thankful for in spite of the struggles we face,
We complain about the illnesses we face, especially Covid and cancer,
We complain about the lack of freedom to always do what we please, the way we please, where we please and when we please;
We complain about the things we do not have,
We complain about the things we do have because it is not exactly what we want –
Yes we fall into a negative complaining way so easily.
Today – World Gratitude Day 2022 –
I challenge us to begin to ‘Live brand new!’
What do you and I need to change today?
What do we need to trade to Jesus for something brand new?
What/who do we need to let go of, even if reluctantly,
To allow God to trade us for something/someone of His choice?
How can you and I begin to live a grateful life showing others God’s blessings?
There is no time better than today to begin –
Begin today on a new one year journey one day at a time –
Being grateful for this moment, this day, this experience, this great life enhanced and empowered by the God whom we love and serve!
Amen and amen!
We are collecting recipes across our Godspace community for our first-ever cookbook. Send your recipe written in your own words, where it came from, and why it’s special to you to firstname.lastname@example.org – if you send 3 or more recipes in, you will receive a FREE digital copy of the finished cookbook! For more information check out this post: https://godspacelight.com/2022/08/03/the-great-godspace-cookbook-gathering/