I do not know if you have noticed on Facebook, but there is an increasing number of people who are being challenged to be grateful. I have seen three day challenges, seven day challenges and even thirty day challenges. The idea is that for three, seven or thirty consecutive days a person who accepts the challenge is supposed to publicly post on Facebook what they are grateful for, so that these things are not taken for granted.
I have heard that people who are grateful for things are healthier, and I know that when things are not going so well I do try to identify those things for which I am very grateful. It tends to turn my attention away from my troubles toward blessings I have in my life.
Taking the time to reflect upon those things for which we are grateful is a profitable exercise. It keeps us from taking things for granted. It keeps us from wallowing too much in the negative in life, to focus on what we have, rather than upon what we do not have.
It is interesting that not having what we want or wanting what we do not have is a tremendous cause of suffering in Buddhism. and is something we should strive to overcome. I have even tried to idenitfy how negative things in my life can be things for which I am grateful. A setback at work can be turned into something positive when we express gratitude for having a job. Negative experiences can become positive simply in the way they can help us realize that even in our darkest hour we can find the positive light that gives us hope.
I have found that when I can list, reflect upon or identify those things for which I am grateful, I realize that I have been given much and that my struggles are not really that bad after all. I can get all worked up inside at the smallest things when I am not a person of gratitude.
I think failing to see those things for which they should be grateful is why the lepers, nine of them anyway, did not go back to thank Jesus. Somehow they did not have grateful hearts, even though the absence of Leprosy would change their lives inestimably for the better. Maybe in the sadness and tragedy of being lepers they simply forgot they even had anything worthy of gratitude.
As Catholics we have special reason to be grateful. We have the ultimate act of gratitude available to us each day as we receive the Eucharist. As we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we learn there is nothing for which we should be more grateful for in our own lives than Jesus himself, whose death and suffering made salvation possible for us. The mercy of Jesus can provide healing for our sinfulness if we acknowledge our sinfulness and accept God’s mercy.
Turn your eyes away from what you do not have in order to be thankful for what you do have. Turn towards Jesus, for whom no amount of gratitude can be expressed for all that He has done for us.