A place to leave behind the past, to have the
fullness of the present,
and to look forward to the bright future.
A noteworthy preacher on the West Coast once recounted a story from his youth. When he was growing up, drought ravaged the family farm. The family prayed for rain that never came. His father, who normally harvested 100 wagons of corn, reaped only a half wagon full. Reflecting on the experience, the preacher said, “I’ll never forget it. His calloused hands holding ours as he looked and prayed, ‘Thank you Lord, I’ve lost nothing. I’ve regained all the seed I planted in spring and so I will be able to plant again.’ While other farmers were saying, ‘We lost 90 or 100 loads,’ my father told me, ‘Never count the might-have-beens or you’ll be defeated. Never look at what you lost, only at what you have left.’” What wonderful and insightful advice. His father was a wise man.
Holy Scripture reminds us to give God thanks “in all things.” Note that it does not advise us to give thanks “for” all things but “in” all things. In other words, maintain a grateful heart, because as we think so shall the realities of our existence unfold. Our perceptions, of our circumstances and of others, shape our reactions and behaviors, which in turn create our future both here and in the hereafter.
A grateful heart never sees lack but only opportunity. The glass truly is never half empty but rather half full. A grateful heart recognizes that however dark the night might be we may look forward to the coming of the dawn.
Notice that resentment can never take root in a grateful heart. There is no room for anger, bitterness and negative criticism. Rather there is an excitement and eagerness that manifests itself in a zest for life and in a love of others. There is a true sense of joy and “wonderment”, even in everyday and seemingly mundane experiences.
People with grateful hearts are not overcome by the challenges life brings. They learn or discern the opportunity which a challenge may bring, then act on it and move on. They do not reinforce the negative by dwelling on it or engaging in rationalizations which usually makes matters worse.
Notice, too, that people are drawn to those whose lives are grateful. Gratitude, and its accompanying joy, brings out the best in others and enables others to experience a more fulfilling life. Spouses would tend not to focus on each other’s faults, which we all have, but on the good qualities that brought them together when they met. Parents would exercise greater patience with their children, remembering their own youthful transition. Co-workers would be more helpful and productive and less likely to be concerned with the poor work performance of other co-workers. Spirituality would be exciting and fulfilling rather than something tedious and obligatory.
So, today count your blessings. Thank God for what you have rather than complain about what you don’t have. Understand that your challenges are an opportunity for growth and fulfillment. Accept yourself and make the best of each day that is given you. Do not concern yourself with the shortcomings of others, but see others as the Father sees them. Learn gratitude and you will find life to be the great gift and creative experience it was intended to be. Peace!
In His Light,
Bishop Raymond Contois