G.K. Chesterton said that gratitude was “nearly the greatest of all human duties, (and) nearly the most difficult.”
It is the greatest of human duties because, as Paul wrote the Corinthians, “what do we have that we did not receive?” Truth, tradition, technologies, medicine, democracy, relative peace, are all things that were given to us by those who’ve gone before.
And yet, to paraphrase Jesus, even pagans can give thanks when things are going well. Expressing gratitude in a year like this, is much more difficult. Things could have gone better. We mourn for our friends and neighbors who’ve faced sickness, financial struggles, and relational fractures throughout this year.
Gratitude in difficult times is what Jonathan Edwards called “gracious gratitude.” We give thanks, not just for what God has done for us and not for what we’ve received, but for who He is. This gratitude is relational, not conditional. Though our world may shatter, we are secure in the One who made us and who saved us, and we can never be separated from His love.
G.K. Chesterton | Humanitas | November 21, 2012
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