Opinions on faith and life

Gratitude

2008-11-26

Not long ago I wrote about the attitude of entitlement that seems to have overtaken Americans, and to be fair, pretty much the whole world. We feel that we deserve much more than basic necessities, and that they are not privileges but rights. We also see a growing belief that we have the right not to be offended, and this cuts across cultures, religions, and age groups.

But an attitude of gratitude isn’t something we can regain by having a big dinner once a year, as we do here in the US on the fourth Thursday of November. God doesn’t want annual lip service, but a life of service. That may seem more like a Christmas “giving” message, but I think there’s a connection between serving others and being grateful when others may serve us for one reason or another. Service requires humility, and the humble tend to also be the grateful.

Right now, on the eve of a national holiday, I feel that the soreness in my lower right jaw is blossoming into yet another abscessed tooth. I could grouse about it happening on a holiday, or I could instead thank God that I live in America where expert dental care can be had in two days, a short distance from my home, and that I have a car to take me there. And if needed, I could go immediately to the nearest hospital emergency room and (after about, oh, 4 hours), get temporary relief until my regular dentist can work on it. I also thank God for over-the-counter pain medications that can help in the meantime.

And here I am on my computer, connected to the world. I have reliable electricity, central heat, hot and cold running water, food in the kitchen, and a healthy family. I dine on the richest theological fare every day, and fellowship with some awesome believers I’ve never even seen. And I even get to live in a house full of cute guys! (my husband and sons, and even our two little pups)

And I’m not going anywhere near the stores on “Black Friday”, when people completely forget about thankfulness in a wild pursuit of the most materialistic holiday we celebrate: Christmas. They push and shove and get into fist fights over the latest fad that their children simply must have. They stand in line for hours to get some new game, or get robbed on the way out. Ironic that the day after Thanksgiving should be this way. I’m just guessing here, but maybe if those people lived the grateful life all year, there wouldn’t be such spectacles of greed.

Live the life, walk the walk.

3 Comments

Greg Anderson

Hiya Paula, I know what a fun killer an abscessed tooth can be, especially on a holiday get together with family and friends. But you’re right though, we live in a land where relief is just a car drive away, and I hope you can get something for the pain, over the counter or prescription if need be.

More to the point. I was just remembering my required high school reading of Steinbeck’s "Grapes of Wrath". In it, Tom Joad, Casy and Muley are roasting a rabbit over a fire and giving thanks for having just that. It wasn’t some long and windy prayer uttered from a pulpit, but just a simple thanks from the heart:

..."Fella gets use’ to a place, it’s hard to go," said Casy. "Fella gets use’ to a way a thinkin’, it’s hard to leave. I ain’t a preacher no more, but all the time I find I’m prayin’, not even thinkin’ what I’m doin’."

Joad turned the pieces of meat over on the wire. The juice was dripping now, and every drop, as it fell in the fire, shot up a spurt of flame. The smooth surface of the meat was crinkling up and turning a faint brown. "Smell her," said Joad. "Jesus, look down an’ jus’ smell her!" (The Grapes of Wrath, Chapter 6).

Such a sweet savor! To be thankful for just now. It says more than all the convoluted tomes on systematic theology ever could.

You’re preachin’ to the choir on this one sis, may we all be thankful for what we have, and not be greedy for more.

Paula Fether

That I am, Greg. But there are always lurkers.

The tooth hasn’t hurt at all today! The gum is sore but I haven’t needed any pain meds. I’m hoping it’ll keep from flaring up again till my scheduled appointment in February.

Good reminder from TGoW. I can’t remember who said it, but there was an early American Christian settler that lamented how the work ethic and frugality would lead to excess and materialism. We’ve been there a long time, here in the west. I think it’s good every century or so for a society to suffer hardship in order to appreciate it when things go well.

Happy Thanksgiving, bro! And to all who visit here.

Words of a Fether » Blog Archive » Thanks!

[...] Last year I wrote about the approaching Thanksgiving holiday, and I think the events of the past year have brought some of the issues into sharper focus. Now more than ever, I would hope that people are waking up to what we are about to lose. [...]