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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Gratitude

So here's the question: Can you be thankful without being grateful?

According to Dictionary.com (http://www.dictionary.com/) grateful is a warm or deep appreciation of personal kindness as shown to one. Thankful, on the other hand, is a disposition to express gratitude by giving thanks, as to a benefactor or to a merciful Providence.

So it would seem that gratitude is a feeling and thankfulness is an action taking to express the feeling. Does that make sense?

I'm pondering these complexities because Thanksgiving Day always makes me ponder them. I wonder what people are giving thanks for. I wonder how thankful we really are.

I recall some lengthy periods in my life when I am pretty sure I wasn't thankful for much of anything. During those periods, I still celebrated Thanksgiving Day. What was I celebrating? Can one really be thankful without being grateful? I don't think so. And I speak from personal experience. You see, one can act thankful - but without the gratitude in one's heart, then it is just an act.

We got through this annual celebration in the U.S.A. and people post on Facebook that they're thankful for this or thankful for that. We sit down before a groaning buffet table and make the rounds where everyone shares something that he or she is thankful for. Is that what grateful people look like? Is that what thankful people look like?

To my way of thinking, grateful people have had a heart change. Their hearts have been changed by their blessings. I imagine the people who fled war-torn Europe were pretty grateful to live in America and be free. I wonder if those of us who say we are thankful to live in America today share the same heart feeling as our European ancestors did. (I doubt it.)

Maybe we should challenge Americans to change their definition of Thanksgiving Day. Maybe we should spend that day searching our hearts to see what's really in them. "Lord, do I have a grateful heart?" That would be an interesting prayer at the dinner table.

I suspect that, like I have been in the past, many people believe they deserve the good things they've got. They take for granted the blessings that others would consider extraordinary. They may even resent what they don't have. And then our government calls them to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

But our government didn't remove our stony hearts of sin and replace them with grateful hearts of praise. Of course only God Himself can do that. And He does that every day, throughout the year. So tell me, which day is Thanksgiving Day in God's eyes?

1 comment:

  1. Nice thoughts. Sometimes we tend to go through the motions, so to speak, of being or acting thankful. It's easy to do at this time of year.

    Rick

    ReplyDelete