“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Ephesians 5:19-20
One spring day many years ago someone decided to do an experiment in New York City’s Central Park. They positioned a man in a busy area of the park, gave him a cup to hold, instructed him to stand still and put a sign around his neck informing people that he was blind. Then they waited to see what would happen. Over the course of the day people walked by and deposited coins in his cup totaling approximately four dollars. Several days later, they tried it again with one simple change: they expanded the message on the sign. It now read “It’s spring and I’m blind.” This time the gifts totaled more than forty dollars.
What happened? Remember, it’s the same man, dressed the same way, in the same place, with the same problem. The only difference is that the sign reminded people that it was the spring of the year. When people added that bit of information to their thinking process, their attitude changed. As they looked around Central Park, they saw the full, green trees, the beautiful array of colors displayed by the flowers in bloom, and the sunshine flooding all of God’s creation in light of the fact that this man could see none of it, and their gratitude increased. In essence – they found gratitude that had been either forgotten, misplaced, or stolen.
In the verse quoted above, the apostle Paul emphasizes that we are to give thanks “always for all things.” Thankfulness should be a constant companion for every believer without concern for the time of year or the circumstances of life. Yet it’s usually not too difficult to find grumpy, unhappy Christians – even though we are not looking for them. While these ungrateful Christians are a bad example to others and unpleasant to be around, it might be wise for us to temper our criticism of them: we all have moments when our gratitude has been lost.
The scripture cautions us about several things that can cause us to lose our gratitude:
Unnecessary Anxiety – When we spend our time fretting over our problems rather than focusing on our God, we forget that He is in control. We are told to “take no thought” for the cares of this life because our Heavenly Father knows our needs and has promised to meet them.
Unhealthy Distractions – There is so much clutter in our lives that it is often difficult to see God’s goodness and blessing. Someone once pointed out that if the stars only came out one night a year we would stay up all night to look at them, but because we see them all the time, we fail to appreciate them.
Unreasonable Expectations – How often do we lose our gratitude because we do not receive what we believe we deserve? It’s even more disheartening when we observe others who seem to get far more than they deserve. We must be careful not to allow our pride to deceive us into believing that we have somehow been mistreated.
The greatest cause of lost gratitude, however, is simply failing to see what we have, and valuing things improperly. Salvation is priceless, and if we know the Lord, we are wealthy beyond comprehension, no matter our circumstances in this life.That’s reason enough to give thanks “always for all things.”