This summer I read one of those life-changing books. I read Thanks! by Robert Emmons. It is a scholarly work on the science of gratitude. (Remember that old TV show where the man gets conked on the head and says, “thanks, I needed that!)? ” Well, I needed this book.
The book encourages us to change our lives by learning how to be grateful. Elie Wiesel, the Nazi prison camp survivor is quoted as saying that gratitude is the key to open the prison door. This knowledge did not come easy to him. Because of what he suffered he did not write about his time in the camps for ten years after the war. Mr. Wiesel calls it “defiant gratitude” - the determination to change the way we see our life.
If Mr. Wiesel can have defiant gratitude, so can we. Very helpful to me was the book’s suggestion to create a “Gratitude Journal.” This has been a discipline I’ve tried to learn.
An older way of saying it is to count one’s blessings and reflect on what God has given us. I have found that while driving is a good way to commence counting, (but not writing).
In today’s reading Paul addresses Jews at Pisidian Antioch. When asked to deliver a word of encouragement Paul gets them started on a Gratitude Journal. He points out all that God has done for their people; choosing their forefathers, protecting them during the Exodus, enduring their conduct for forty years (that is a long time to endure bad conduct so we can add patience), fighting for them, giving them rulers….And giving them Jesus.
I can recount so many blessings. I can recount my parents’ history and how God reached into their families and chose them, and guided them, and guided my life,…I want to live in a spirit of gratitude and take no blessing for granted.