This has been a tough year. There have been challenges and struggles of all kinds. Things like betrayal by those we trusted, abandonment by those we counted on, rejection by those we depended on, can lead to feelings of resentment, worthlessness, loneliness, and hopelessness. So today is arguably the best day to reflect on the subject of “gratitude”.
God is good. I know that. Life often isn’t. I know that, too. But there is a difference between knowing something and experiencing it. What’s better than experiencing the goodness of God? What’s worse than experiencing life’s bad stuff? Yet, both are existential realities for the child of God.
The story of the ten lepers in Luke 17 is interesting. Jesus heals all ten, but only one of them returns to express gratitude—and the Bible notes that he was a Samaritan. Is it possible the other nine were Jews and therefore felt entitled to this goodness of God expressed in their lives?
Ah, yes! Entitlement. When it comes to the “bad stuff” in life, exactly how much relief are we entitled to as children of God? If God were to right the wrongs in life, wouldn’t it make sense that He would begin with His own children?
Absent an accurate idea of how little we are entitled to, it is difficult to grasp the need for gratitude. In fact, an attitude of entitlement stands in steadfast opposition to gratitude. Have you ever noticed how your worship can be hindered when life turns sour on you? Could that be because we feel entitled to something? As a child of the Most High, don’t I deserve better?
In his book, Deeper Places: Experiencing God in the Psalms, Matthew Jacoby writes, “The most dominant experiences portrayed in the Psalms is that of people coming to terms with and exposing themselves to the full force of their harshest realities”. I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly what I want to hear when life has kicked me to the ground and stomped on me.
My sense of entitlement usually results in “gratitude interrupted”, and I think that may be because it gives me a false sense of security. On the other hand, life’s crippling disappointments actually result in me discovering what and who I really am. They force me into necessary reorientation—they keep me dependent on God.
Jacoby writes, “The tragedy of finding oneself in a mirage becomes the beginning of an about-face that puts
Profound indeed. Given all the pain, suffering, grief, rejection, and all the other “bad stuff” that gets thrown our way, how are you feeling about your life today? Entitled or grateful? Bitter or thankful?
I think I am going to try earnestly embarking on a mission of discovering deep joy and gratitude in the midst of severe hardship. If I understand the lament Psalms correctly, it’s there to experience.
Care to join me?