The Act of Gratitude
Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:16-18
A few weeks ago now the Youth Trust team took a day away together to re-energize and look back at all God has done over the past year. Dan shared with us the concept of Gratitude.
Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and being ready to show appreciation for and to return kindness. It is more than being polite; being grateful affects the way we think and act in our everyday lives. If we are feeling sad, stressed, anxious, or emotional in any way, recalling things we are thankful for can cause us to feel more positive.
“Every language in the world has a way of saying ‘thank you’. This is because gratitude is an inherent quality that resides within each human being, and is triggered and expressed spontaneously in a variety of different contexts. Gratitude crosses all boundaries – creed, age, vocation, gender, and nation – and is emphasis by all the great religious traditions.”
“Positive psychology has shown that the expression of gratitude reduces stress and encourages pro-social behaviour. Gratitude is a virtue that not only expresses appreciation for a gift or service: it illuminates the relationship which actually makes sense of our lives. “
(Mark Solomon, Kenneth Wilson, Tim Winter: It is good to give thanks, Gratitude in the Abrahamic Religions)
About three years ago, during my first year at university, my parents were coming to visit. I was studying Music, and was about to start being the Worship Coordinator at the Christian Union. It had been a stressful and busy term; moving away from home for the first time had been a real challenge. The usual phone call came from my Mum, who was informing me that they were in York. I needed to let them in to my accommodation block, so I ran down stairs to the door and opened it. They eventually appeared! I could see that my dad was carrying a very big, long case, and my mum was carrying some kind of stand for this object. It wasn’t until we got into my flat that I realised what it was. I opened the case to find a portable piano. I remember saying thank you LOADS of times! I felt a sense of gratitude towards my parents; not because they bought me a piano, but because the act of buying me a piano had freed me up in so many other areas of my life, such as being able to fulfil my new role at the Christian Union.
Here at the Youth Trust we are learning to express the act of gratitude. We are incredibly thankful to God for many things this year. We are thankful for the growth of the team, with four new members of staff joining us since this time last year. We are also thankful that over 350 schools are now taking part in the Young Leaders Award and that over 37,000 young people are being empowered to ‘be the change they want to see’ in their communities. It is always great to hear about the great work our Young Leaders are doing in their local communities and we loved this story about one of our Young Leaders called Louis who out of his gratitude to Yorkshire Air Ambulance for saving the life of his grandparents has responded by an amazing fundraising venture! You can read all about it here:
So what are you grateful for today? Remember, like us, to try and take time out each day to remember what you are grateful for. From the simplest of things, to the big things.