June 8, 2021
Levels of Thankfulness – Stages of Gratitude
One really important thing that’s happened as I’ve focused on Gratitude and Thankfulness is that I’ve begun recognizing levels or stages or qualities of Thankfulness in myself. It’s not necessarily a linear progression from one to the other. It can be parts of all or it can be one for one situation and another for another. And it can be most or all of these at the same time for me.
I’m talking about:
• Circumstantial Thankfulness – Thanks for the blessings!
• Comparative Thankfulness – Well, I guess it could be worse!
• Thankfulness In All Things – In Everything Give Thanks
• Whole Life Thankfulness – I’m Thankful for my life!
Whole Life Thankfulness – Thankful for my life
I’d love it if you’ll take three minutes and watch this video clip from the movie Joe Versus the Volcano.
When I first saw this movie years ago, as I watched this scene, God spoke something into my heart and started me on a quest (or something very like a quest) to live as much of my life as possible with a “Thank you for my life” attitude and outlook.
Oh God Whose Name I Do Not Know! Tom Hanks’ character Joe didn’t know the name of the God who had given him his life. I have the privilege of knowing the name of that God! He’s Father! He’s My Shepherd! And he’s the God who has given me nine years more of life on earth than my dad had. (And that’s just so far!)
If you read my recent series of posts “Not Disappointed”, you know that late in life, in my mid-sixties actually, I began to discover that my dad must have been way more important to me than I realized. My dad died in 1988 at age 69 and 166 days. I hadn’t seen him for a few years because Jean and I were missionaries serving overseas, and one of the things missionaries sacrifice is time with family. My dad and mom were able to visit us a couple of years after we moved to Jamaica. We were still living in the village in the mountains and my dad had a great time doing carpentry projects for the church and the children’s primary school. My dad was old school enough that he didn’t complain about having to do most everything with hand tools, because even if we’d had power tools, the electricity wasn’t consistent enough to count on. It was a great time!
Then he and my mom had gone back home to Oregon, and Jean and I and Melissa had moved to Kingston and started the Bible Training Center. Life was full and busy and it had been nearly two years since I’d seen my dad before he died. I was so thankful to be able to get a flight to Medford, Oregon, and thankful that they delayed the funeral a day so I’d be able to be there!
But twenty four years later, when I was approaching age 69 and 166 days, the age my dad lived to, I made an electronic calendar in Microsoft Outlook to count down to when I reached the age he reached. Somehow, it became really important to me to mark the age when I had lived as long as he lived. Kind of like the short-timer’s calendar we all kept in Vietnam to count down to the end of our tour of duty.
On the day I lived as long as my dad had lived, something happened in me. A good something. I decided, chose to believe, and made it a core principle of my life that every day from that point on was a gift from God. I know, they all are aren’t they? But this was a kind of defining moment for me. From that day forward, every day of my life is a grace-gift from God!
Not every day of my life since that day has been a pleasant day or enjoyable day. There have been lots of challenges, setbacks, pain, and heartache. Imagine that! And there have been joy-filled days, and restful days, and victories, and celebrations. You know, like normal life is.
And though I still get anxious about stuff and I feel envious or critical of people sometimes, that is not the core of my attitude toward my life. My life on its good days and its bad days is a gift from God. I’m thankful for my life!
In this series, we’ve considered Four Stages or Qualities of Thankfulness. (There may be five or six or however many you might discover on your life’s journey through sunny meadows and dark valleys.)
- I don’t think these are a linear progression from one to the other. For me, it can be parts of all or it can be one for one situation and another for another.
- I can find myself at any of these four stages in the same day.
- I know that I want to arrive more frequently and stay longer at the “Thankful For My Life” stage of thankfulness!
Let’s determine to live our lives with an Attitude of Gratitude. I know it’s trite and it’s a cliché. But I also know that there is a way of living Thankful, living and thinking and acting out of a deep gratitude to God for the gift of life.
Don’t forget that Gratitude doesn’t come through having what you want, it comes through wanting what you have.
Be consciously and intentionally grateful for what you have, and don’t waste the moments of your life whining and complaining over what you don’t have! Express gratitude and thanksgiving continually!
I hope there has been an insight, or encouragement, or even a challenge for you as you’ve read this series of posts. Let’s explore the entire range of thankfulness and keep moving toward that place where we are more and more often, for longer and longer periods of time, simply Thankful for our Lives!
As always, I’d love to hear from you and I welcome your comments and questions. If you’re reading on the blog, leave a comment below. If you’re reading from the email, click “Reply” and tell me what you’re thinking.