Secular living is often driven by consumption and fear of scarcity, what are we missing? Christian living is the assurance of God’s providence and gratitude for God’s gifts, what are our blessings? Jesus encouraged us to “Consider the lilies of the field…consider the birds of the air… If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” Matthew 6:26-33. We live in gratitude, not fear. Saying thank you to others, with our words and our deeds, shares our gratitude and transforms society.
- I reflect on my day and what, who I am grateful for.
- I look at the day’s challenges and be open to what they may teach me.
- I say “thank you” promptly, sincerely, graciously, specifically, warmly…
- I let others know I value them.
Key Learning Points:
- Gratitude and saying ‘thanks’ empowers me to see God’s presence in my life and providence.
- Silent reflection and “rummaging” through my day gives me clarity to see God’s providence.
- Even the challenges are often God’s way of “refining” me and I can be aware of and trust God’s work in me.
- Saying thank you to others shows them that I appreciate them and they are important to me and to God.
“If we can realize that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! …Saying ‘thank you’ is such an easy thing and yet so hard…How often do we say ‘thank you’ to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. If families can say these three things, they will be fine: ‘sorry,’ ‘excuse me,’ ‘thank you.’ How often do we say ‘thank you’ to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted.” Pope Francis
- To reflect on the power of gratitude and saying thanks, click on the stories, tools, quotes and videos below.
- Take time, ideally at least twice a day to think about what you are grateful for, write it down and thank God.
- Practice saying “thank you” to others and record these in your journal as well.
- Even the challenges I experience can be “the refiner’s fire”, write how is God drawing me closer through trials?
- Look back on your week or longer in your journal and see the movement of your spirit.
o Ingratitude is a vice that is extremely common but at the same time extremely poisonous to society. Society is a beneficiary network, that is, it is structured by the benefits we receive and give; benefits are freely given acts of good will that both please and are pleasing to give because they are necessary or useful in some way.
o The nature of a benefit is constituted by the intention of the giving and its effect on the mind, not by the nature of the thing given. Someone who gives small things nobly is giving greater benefit than someone who gives great things ignobly.
o Benefits are “the chief bond of human society”, which is itself a dance of benefits (the dance of the Graces is an example of how the movement of benefit from person to person makes society ordered and beautiful). Ingratitude breaks up the dance, and the purpose of Seneca’s work is to lay down rules for giving benefits and being a beneficiary in order to counter the corrosive effect of ingratitude…
Exercises for Older Teens and Adults:
- Gratitude—seeing the glass half full rather than half empty makes us happy and increases our awareness of God’s providence.
- Appreciation—even those experiences that may be painful or challenging can be a gift from God—“refining”
- Watch the video What Oprah Knows About the Power of Gratitude
- Read both or one of the stories to see how even trials can be for our good:
- Spend quiet time thinking about your own “refining” and what you can thank God for. Write this in your journal.
- Saying “Thank You”
- Touch on the some of the 50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life
- Reflect on what makes a good “Thank you” from How to Say Thank You
- Jot down in your journal some of the folks you should thank.
- Use the cards Thanksgiving Prayer 2 or Thanksgiving Prayer 3 and write notes to some of those you’ve listed.
- o Follow through with your other “thank you”s in appropriate ways.
- Gratitude Crafts
- Create a Family Gratitude Box!
- Write each “Bible Verses on Being Thankful” on an index card and put them in a file box. Flip through them to remind you. As you discover them add gratitude quotes and scripture verses that inspire you.
Exercises for Younger Teens (13-16):
- Same as above
Questions to Encourage Critical Thinking:
- What am I grateful for today?
- What are some of the benefits of the challenges I faced today?
- Who am I grateful for today?
- What are some of the things I’ve taken for granted today?
- Is my glass half-empty or half-full?
Tools and Templates:
Word Definition: from wikipedia
- Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.
- Providence, the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power.
- Secular— denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis.
- Refining— remove impurities or unwanted elements, improve (something) by making small changes.
- How to Say Thank You although this is about business the principles apply to all expressions of thanks
- Lessons from the Hiding Place: Thankful for the Fleas
- The Refiner’s Fire: A Lesson of Life’s Trials
- The Underappreciated Art of Saying Thank You
- The best book for gratitude is your own. Keep a gratitude journal and daily write: what you are thankful for, who you should thank, what trials are blessings in disguise
- Gratitude: Louie Schwartzberg
- What Oprah Knows About the Power of Gratitude
- Laura Trice: The power of saying thank you
- Ben Stein on Giving the Gift of Gratitude
- All Good Gifts
- 20 Bible Verses on Being Thankful
- “This is by the Grace of my Lord to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful! And whoever is grateful, truly, his gratitude is for (the good of) his own self, and whoever is ungrateful, (he is ungrateful only for the loss of his own self). Certainly! My Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), Bountiful” [An-Naml: 40]
- Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. – Denis Waitley
- At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer
I THANK YOU GOD FOR MOST THIS AMAZING DAY
i thank You God for most this amazing day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any–lifted from the no of all nothing–human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened) —e.e. cummings
Summary 2-page Lesson Examples:
- None at this time.