Pastor Pat Duffin,
High Prairie Christian Centre
Although it’s not the “Thanksgiving Season,” I’ve been thinking about how gratitude enriches our lives. After all, it’s not just a special day, it’s a way of life.
My mother was famous for saying, “I’d rather be rich and miserable than poor and miserable.”
To which I would always respond, “But, Mom, you’re missing the point. You would still be miserable.”
And it’s true! Who wants to miserable?
Unfortunately, too many of us live at the corner of ‘misery’ and ‘discontent.’ Skid-row is a state of mind more than it’s a location.
I have known people who have a poverty mentality even though they are quite well off. They are never happy. Never satisfied. Never content. They seem determined to be unhappy. Nothing seems to lift their spirit.
There is a nagging hunger for more that leaves them empty and anxious. Perhaps it’s fear of the future. Fear of poverty or not having enough. Fear of some vague calamity or setback. Whatever it is, it keeps them living in a state of perpetual pessimism.
In that state of mind, it’s impossible to be happy no matter how much you have or don’t have. This is what allows a rich person to feel dirt-poor while living in a mansion.
It’s also possible to live in a shack and be just as discontented and miserable. It’s not the location that’s the problem. It’s how you view the wonderful life God has given you.
A sense of entitlement negates any sense of gratitude. When we take for granted what we have then there is not much prospect for appreciation or thankfulness in our life.
It’s the same with the bitterness that comes from failing to recognize the bountiful gifts in our lives. How sad, because the person who is content and grateful is already full and has no need for anything more. That’s a great place to live!
In the words of one writer, “A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment.”
The Bible says that gratitude and contentment do not depend on our objective life experiences. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” [Philippians 4:11-12]
Paul is a very credible witness to this truth. He had suffered much [2 Corinthians 11:16-33] yet he says that we can choose to be grateful and that we can learn to be content.
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain [wealth]. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” [1 Timothy 6:6-11]
Not only are gratitude, peace, contentment and satisfaction cultivated, they are a gift of divine grace. It is not something that we have earned, nor do we deserve it. It is very much a benefaction of God.
It is also the byproduct of living [godliness] in agreement with God’s Word and His Spirit.
By embracing God’s value system and changing the way we think and live, we enter a deeper relationship with God. It is that rich relationship with God that nurtures and assures a happy life both now and forever.
In Jesus’ own words, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” [John 10:10]
Therefore, the key to real happiness is to choose the life that God wants for us.
Next week: Lay Minister Joseph L’Heureux