The Word Among Us

Personal Spirituality Resources

Reflections on Thanksgiving and Gratitude

By: Jeanne Kun

Reflections on Thanksgiving and Gratitude by Jeanne Kun

The following reflection guides us to making gratitude an active part of our day.

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go your way; your faith has made you well.” — Luke 17:11-19

Examine your heart. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any attitudes—for example, discontentment, taking God’s benefits for granted, holding on to your own agenda, complacency—that blind you to God’s blessings and block you from experiencing and expressing gratitude. What could you do to overcome such hindrances and change your outlook? To make giving thanks to God a more conscious and active part of your life?

Reflect on the following Scripture passages that portray expressions of gratitude to God for his goodness and gifts:

  • [David] appointed certain of the Levites as ministers before the ark of the Lord, to praise invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord, the God of Israel. . . . Asaph was to sound the cymbals, and the priests Benaiah and Jahaziel were to blow trumpets regularly, before the ark of the covenant of God. Then on that day David first appointed the singing of praises to the Lord by Asaph and his kindred. —1 Chronicles 16:4, 5b-7
  • [B]e filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Ephesians 5:18-20
  • Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

In the Words of the Saints

What better words may we carry in our heart, pronounce with our mouth, write with a pen, than the words, “Thanks be to God”? There is no phrase that may be said so readily, that can be heard with greater joy, felt with more emotion or produced with greater effect. —St. Augustine, Letter 72

We should not accept in silence the benefactions of God, but return thanks for them. —St. Basil the Great

There is no one who, with a little bit of thought, cannot but discover many reasons for being grateful to God. . . . Once we have come to an appreciation of all he has given to us, we will have abundant cause to give thanks continually. —St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermon for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Act!

Count your blessings! Write your own personal “litany of thanks.”

Make a list of what you are grateful for and keep adding to it. Recount this list occasionally as you pray, thanking God for each of the particular benefits he has bestowed on you. You may find it helpful to use Psalm 103 as a model for your litany of thanks.

Excerpted from Mighty in Power: The Miracles of Jesus, by Jeanne Kun (The Word Among Us Press, 2006). Available at wau.org/books

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