Everyone should have a gratitude list that starts with God, who has given us every good gift we possess, and goes on to include the people and communities who have enriched our lives. Parents and family should be high on our gratitude list even if things at home weren’t (or still aren’t) perfect. Friends are a great blessing, and many of us are privileged to have co-workers who make tough jobs easier. All these should be on our list.
Life itself is a tremendous gift that we should be thankful for. Respect for all life, especially the sacredness of every human life, begins with a profound “thank you” to God, the author of all life. When we forget to thank God for this most precious gift, when we act like we ourselves are somehow responsible for decisions concerning life and death, terrible things happen. Saying thank you for the great gift of life is the first (and perhaps most important) step on the road to peace — in our hearts, in our families and neighborhoods, and in our world.
Good health should be on everyone’s gratitude list — especially in a time of pandemic when so many people have died or are seriously ill. The miracle of healing should always be a source of thankfulness, especially for those of us who have witnessed first-hand what can happen when the skill of healthcare professionals is complemented by the power of prayer.
Freedom and fundamental human rights should also be high on our list. As daily news reports remind us, if we take our liberty or human rights for granted, we risk losing them. Gratitude to the men and women who defend us and keep us safe — here at home and throughout the world — should be something we express often and from the heart.
Love demands our gratitude and so does friendship. Think of how lonely this world would be without the power of love freely given to us from the moment of our conception to the hour of our death. Every one of us is loved by God in the most intimate and personal way. God knows our name. He reaches out to us and cares for us as only a loving father can. Scripture says that God is love, so when we thank others — spouse, family, friends and even strangers — for the gift of love, we are expressing gratitude for God’s gift of self to us.
November is gratitude month. It is a time when we are invited to reflect gratefully on all the gifts we have received from a good and gracious God. Gratitude is the first characteristic of a Christian steward, but it never stands alone. The grateful steward is accountable for all his or her gifts, and generous too. Finally, a steward who is truly grateful seeks to return God’s gifts with increase, to be productive and “give back” a hundredfold.
This November — and all year long — let’s offer heartfelt thanks to God for all his gifts.
Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.