Monday, December 05, 2011

Remembering to say thank you

I remember a good many years ago the church I attended at that time often used to sing an old hymn with a chorus that went like this:

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

After we had sung the chorus for the last time, the senior pastor would add a second chorus of his own:

Count your blessings, name them two by two,
Count your blessings, see what God can do;
Count your blessings, name them four by four,
And it will surprise you there are millions more.

In my mind's eye, I can see him still.

Broadly, there are two classes of people: those who see the negative in every situation, and complain; and those who see the positive in every situation, and are thankful. I know which group of people is the happier.

Gratitude needs to be expressed. "In everything give thanks," says Paul (1 Thess 5:18). Somebody said the saddest thing for an atheist is when he feels thankful and he has nobody to thank. I don't know about that, but I do know the rest of us aren't in that situation.

"Enter into his gates with thanksgiving," says the Bible, "and into his courts with praise" (Psa 100:4). So don't dash straight into God's presence with a shopping list. Thanks first.

The other day I was looking at the number of instructions there are in the Bible to give thanks. If you were to count up the number of exhortations to thanksgiving in the book of Psalms, I'm sure you'd soon lose count.

I have decided I want to recognise the things I have to be thankful for more readily and to express my gratitude more often.

How about the following?

There is no greater difference between men than between grateful and ungrateful people. - R. H. Blyth.

When we were children we were grateful to those who filled our stockings at Christmas time. Why are we not grateful to God for filling our stockings with legs? - G. K. Chesterton.

And this:

If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. - Rabbi Harold Kushner.