“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones.” – Colossians 1:3-4
Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, used letters to teach the communities that he preached to. We are blessed to have these letters for our instruction as well. Today, Paul begins his letter to the Colossians with this statement of appreciation:
“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the holy ones.”
Actually, in 11 out of 13 letters, Paul includes a statement of gratitude to God for the people and for their living of the Gospel. Gratitude, appreciation, thankfulness. Whatever you call it, it is so important in living the Gospel message. Being grateful was really critical to me during one time of my life. I had an especially difficult period in my ministry. I would come home mentally and physically exhausted, feeling a lot like Elijah when he exclaimed, “This is enough O Lord! Take my life…” Each night I struggled knowing that I couldn’t continue feeling this way.
A dear friend gave me a little book by M.J. Ryan called Attitudes of Gratitude – How to Give and Receive Joy Everyday of Your Life. She recommends among other things that each night one should list all the things for which we are grateful that day. So every night, I started naming the things, events, and people that I was grateful for. Sometimes it was challenging and I could only name one or two things like “the sun was out” or “God loves me.” Gradually, I found more and more to be thankful for and my Elijah moments grew fewer and fewer. I found myself being grateful throughout the day and thanking God for the simple graces that occurred. There are so many!
So where is God in all this thankfulness stuff? “Give thanks and praise God’s holy name,” says the Psalmist in Psalm 100. There is plenty to thank God for – the ocean, the stars, a newborn baby, a good friend. But the most exciting thing is that God is thankful for us too! In our sadness and fears, the “I can’t take it anymore” times, in our joy and excitements, God gives thanks for us, the creatures whom God loves.
So bask in the knowledge that God appreciates you. Then take a moment right now to identify three people, thanks or events that you are grateful for. Tonight, before nodding off, try to list as many things or people as you can that make your life richer. It’s better than counting sheep!