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After Thanksgiving: Developing Genuine Gratitude

By Kim A. Talbert
November 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone for another year.  Families were gathered, grace was said, food and drink were savored, and fellowship ensued.  But upon examination, was sincere, deep thanksgiving poured out to the living God?  Was His sacrifice for mankind considered, and were humanity's vast abundance of blessings truly remembered?  Were they accounted for one by one?

WASHINGTON,DC (the burningbeast.com) - Thanksgiving Day has come and gone for another year.  Families were gathered, grace was said, food and drink were savored, and fellowship ensued.  But upon examination, was sincere, deep thanksgiving poured out to the living God?  Was His sacrifice for mankind considered, and were humanity's vast abundance of blessings truly remembered?  Were they accounted for one by one?

The act of gratitude, or lack thereof, was questioned by Christ in Luke 17:11.  On his way to Jerusalem, Jesus was approached by ten lepers who asked Him to have mercy on them.  Only one, upon realizing he was healed, turned back, praised God loudly, prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him.  Jesus responded, "Were not ten made clean?  But the other nine, where are they?  Was none of them found to return and give praise to God . . .?"

Christ Himself was thankful.  In the institution of the Lord's Supper as revealed in each of the synoptic gospels, Jesus gave thanks.  

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an early 20th century German protestant theologian, stated in his book Life Together: "Only he who gives thanks for little things receives the big things.  We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts he has in store for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.   . . . We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts.  How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from him the little things?  . . ." 

In response, though, one might reply, "But my life is filled with sickness, struggles, disappointment, and pain.  It's hard for me to be thankful."

Yes, but Jesus gave thanks at the meal knowing He was to be crucified for the sins of the whole world, and Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and executed by the Nazis at the age of 39. 

By comparison, most of us don't have troubles. 

May genuine gratitude to God not just be given in fleeting moments during the rushed, highly commercialized holiday season, but every single day of the year.  May we praise God every morning at the first sign of consciousness, thanking Him for the preciousness of life, for salvation through His Son, and for the freedom to choose our paths.  May we all be like the lone, exceptional leper and thank the One from whom our blessings flow.

After all, Luke 17 reveals, He will notice. 

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Kim A. Talbert is an award-winning nonfiction author, columnist, speaker and writing conference instructor. She is also the author of The Burning Beast, www.theburningbeast.com

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