The Transformative Grace of Gratitude; Asking God and Ourselves What Really Matters

The Transformative Grace of Gratitude; Asking God and Ourselves What Really Matters October 13, 2019

The Lights are on, but are you Home?

One particular conceptual trend and topic many of the self help gurus reference and emphasize is the need for more gratitude in our lives. And this being the eve of Thanksgiving in Canada, I figured what better way to set the tone for this holiday weekend than by scrutinizing how we tend to be appreciative and by providing a good, real life story to illustrate what I mean.

So, here is to putting more stuff in your stuffing this year…

True gratitude and thankfulness is about perspective; if you are truly grateful, you see, feel and bow down to the fullness of life God has given you.

Fullness in this context is not about having enough; having reached the maximum level of satisfaction or of being sate on a emotional and spiritual level.

It’s beyond that and about gratitude for God’s limitless gratuity and generosity; “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and provide in abundance for every good work.”  (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The quandary behind God’s affluence from the human perspective is that God inserts richness in our lives in the form of what is truly and absolutely necessary and of highest value in his eyes primarily.

And even more ironically, he can give us these blessings in such honorable ways; with all the royal pomp, bells, whistles, strobe lights and dry ice imaginable but funny enough, often we seem to be mesmerized with the party next door; we are not paying attention to his magnificence on display in your own backyards.

Or to the contrary, we can possess and demonstrate a razor sharp focus on the beautiful bounty that God offers us on an epic scale; right here, right now.

It’s once again, about response and choices and what we allow into our lives in conjunction with and as a result of our choices.

Putting First Things First 

I am so grateful to write this piece today that I figured that I would limit the scripture references to just one and grace everyone with my story-telling abilities on this very special weekend. I am also convinced that there is no better way than to discuss gratitude on a profound level than via a relevant and powerful testimony.

On a much more personal note, not only will I be celebrating Thanksgiving with friends later on this afternoon, I am also 2 days away from the anniversary of the death of my nephew. On October 15th, 2005 he was taken away from us as a result of a rare, genetic disease; one he had been dealing with for a couple of years but doctors could not identify nor treat.

He was just 3 years old.

One of the hardest things I ever had to witness in my life was watching a child of this age disintegrate in front of your very eyes; and if that is not bad enough, the funeral afforded me images and memories that are painfully indelible.

However and despite the monumental anguish this caused our family, we still had so much to live for; namely each other through God’s grace.

My nephew’s parents and their oldest son are still scraping their way to some sort of normalcy and happiness. For sure, some days and periods are much more triumphant than others. But when it comes to gratitude, they have become leaders and examples in prioritizing what matters.

When the family needs them, they drop whatever they are doing and rush to your side; no excuses, no agendas, no if or buts; your needs go to the top of their list and they find a way. That is going beyond being dependable; that’s called a focused act of sacrifice; a major artery in the act of true love.

They put family first, always. If fact, they always did. The courageous part in all of this is how the loss of their son amplified their efforts, their desire to care for and love those closest to them; it took on a whole new and powerful dimension. If that is not showing gratitude, I am not sure what is.

Gratitude is Selfless

When suffering monumental loss like my brother and sister in law and my surviving nephew did, the aftermath often presents itself in the form of a question; where do we go from here?

Do we live embittered lives, angry at God for being “victims” of incomprehensible circumstances; shut everyone, including God out and just wallow in pain?

What do we do with our suffering; do we make it about ourselves; or demonstrate gratitude for what we do have and pour our hearts into something on the outside, a higher cause, something much bigger and redeeming; something that not only fills the void but gives meaning and purpose to our affliction?

This outside factor, higher cause, passion, opportunity and labor of unconditional love is my surviving nephew; his upbringing, education and personal growth as a man; as a son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, friend, student, community member, aspiring entrepreneur and most importantly, son of God.

Whether it is the long drives to and from his campus in the US, buying him a car, supporting his studies and business ventures or all the time and energy spent on his hockey career earlier in his life; my brother and sister in law have shown gratitude for the value and importance of this one life in ways that can be labelled transformative.

It was not really about doing what parents are expected to do and more; many parents globally speaking, can relate to taking care of their kids; it was about saying that life is not over even if it felt or continues to feel like it, literally; it’s about prioritizing and displaying gratitude for the opportunities to extend and transcend themselves and their pain by giving unconditionally to the greatness and blessings they have left.

Not only has that made them better people but this goodness shines intensely in the man that is my nephew. He’s a role model student, aspiring business and community leader and above all, an astoundingly bright, mature, gracious and humble family man and like his parents, is profoundly aware of what comes first.

Today, what I feel so much gratitude for are the examples and prototypes of God’s grace that I am lucky to have in my immediate circle; real life heroes and teachers who educate through their mindset and actions and egg on my progress not only as a family man, but as a being made in God’s image.

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