Gratitude and Contentment

Gratitude is a seed that grows into contentment. Every thankful thought roots contentment deeper into our hearts. But gratitude is so difficult. We are too busy complaining; we are distracted by envy and greed. And the weeds of discontentment choke out our attempts at thanksgiving.

In talking about gratitude and contentment, it is appropriate to mention Ann Voskamp’s story, as she wrote it in One Thousand Gifts.

Experiencing a difficult childhood which included the loss of her baby sister, Ann lived young adulthood in depression and fear. What finally broke open the door to joy was her discovery of eucharisteo, the Greek word for giving thanks. Jesus took bread, broke it, and “gave thanks” on the night before he was crucified—and in this Ann found freedom. Thanksgiving in a moment of trial. In her quest to be thankful, she chased after the simple and beautiful moments in life, keeping a list of gratitude for every minute thing which gave her pleasure. Her search for things to be thankful for was really a search for God’s presence. And she found Him. The more she gave thanks, the closer she drew to Him. The depression and fear subsided, and in its place, joy and contentment.

Sometimes, in the darkness, only the discipline of gratitude provides any light. It’s a discipline because we do not feel thankful when the blackness around seems impenetrable. We do not feel inclined towards gratitude when sin leads us down the wide road—again. When children demand and complain, when chores sit undone for a week, when people disappoint us, when we disappoint ourselves—how can we be thankful?

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

In all circumstances? Yes. If Jesus can give thanks before the darkest hour in history when the Lord of the universe, his Father, would forsake him, then we can give thanks in the midst of failure and pain.

Ann writes, “When I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me.” The color of soapy bubbles in the sun. Fresh baked bread. A moment of silence in the midst of chaos. Having a car that works.

Having Him. His presence. His grace. If all else is stripped away, there is still Him. And thus, eucharisteo in all circumstances is possible.

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