Tag Archives: gratitude

To Thank Someone

Atheist Bart Ehrman: “I have no-one to express my sense of gratitude to. This is a deep void inside me, a void of wanting someone to thank…”

G.K. Chesterton: “We thank people for birthday presents of cigars and slippers. Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?”


Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?

‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down

And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

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Talking Back

As of June, high school officially ended for me. I am graduated. Gradumacated. One of the Alumni. Which sounds far more sophisticated than it actually is. (All it means, so far as I can tell, is that you managed to get through twelve grades without screwing up. High five.)

I take a step back, get a look at the past four years. Reminiscence. I can see my fourteen-year-old brain making calculations: only four more years. Only four more years and I’ll be done. Adolescent folly. I was stupid back then. Still am, just in different ways.

If you had asked me what I meant by done I probably couldn’t have told you; not precisely anyway. I had the vague notion that school was an adversary, pinioning my arms behind my back. Once I completed the obligatory twelve years, I’d be free. Free to do the Real Stuff. College, a job, a family, the works. I could, in effect, “get on with life.”

Get on with life? Get on with life? Look around you, fool. This is life.

I think it would amusing to encounter my younger self and give him – me – a talking to. Maybe in a restaurant over eggs and coffee, like in Looper. I would take aim and fire, but with words, not a gun. I’d point out the wrongness of that thinking, the wastefulness of it, the ingratitude the seeps from it like bog water.

looper

Pause in your consideration of the lilies and consider yourself for one moment. You have been blessed to grow up in a faithful covenant home, a home where your education is as much a matter of the heart as of the head. You have been given an opportunity, by God’s grace, to grow and to learn and to expand your tiny horizons. And here you stand, a gripe on your lips. Your education is not a ball-and-chain – it’s a springboard. Onward and upward. Be thankful for it. Take advantage of it.

You are discontent. You greedily anticipate the next stage in life, the one where you’re no longer a high schooler. But do you think this discontent will fix itself when college comes around? It won’t. You’ll spend four years in college wanting to be finished with college. A vicious cycle, we call it. It won’t stop with marriage. It surely won’t stop with children. It won’t stop with the career you’ve always wanted, nor with a fat retirement check. On the contrary: the cycle will only spin faster.

Repent. You don’t want a monster like that on your hands. Put a gun to its head and pull the trigger, kid. Put yourself out of its misery. You need help, so pray to the only One who can give it.

I can’t step back in time and give myself this advice. I can only be thankful that God has opened my eyes to its truth; that He has given me a deeper thankfulness for where His providence has placed me, in the here and in the now. Present tense.

It isn’t finished, of course. I will struggle with this again and again, no matter how candles are planted atop my birthday cake. The beast won’t die this side of Glory. But knowing what I’m up against is half the battle – and I’m not going it alone.

Of Twitter-Ingrates and Getting Dressed for Christmas

While thumbing through my Twitter feed earlier today, I saw this:


So I did. And the tweets I ended up reading reminded me of a line from King Lear: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is To have a thankless child!” A few examples will suffice:

I’m yelling **** CHRISTMAS cause I only got 4 gifts under the tree.

I’m not even that excited for Christmas cuz I’m not getting an Xbox 360.

Only got an iPad 2 god mum I wanted a ****** iPhone 5 **** sake

And my mom went directly against me. she asked me if I wanted the black or white iPad. I said white, of course. tell me why mine is black..?

Well I guess I didnt get my much wanted iphone. **** my **** life and every ******* thing it.

Got That 60″ I Been Asking For, New PS3, & Like 4 Bills! No iPhone 5 Tho…

There’s something darkly funny about all this griping, and I’m tempted to make a crack about the fuzzy-wuzzy sentimentalists who think the Christmas season magically brings out the best in us. For now, however, I shall refrain. The point of this post lies elsewhere.

There’s this thing called the R.C. Sproul Jr. Principal of Hermeneutics, and the principal is this: “Whenever you see someone doing something really stupid in the Bible, do not say to yourself, ‘How can they be so stupid?’ Instead say to yourself, ‘How am I stupid, just like them?’”

This situation is different – I’m “studying” Twitter, not the Bible – but the basic idea still applies. So instead of adopting a self-righteous stance and giving these Twitter-Ingrates a condescending eye-roll, I should consider: how am I an ingrate, just like them?

I may not fill my Twitter feed with whining, railing, or blue language. I may not blog about how disappointing it was not to get that coveted iPhone (or what have you). I may not use Facebook as a way to vent my wrath against the cold and heartless universe.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not griping deep down inside.

In his book God Rest Ye Merry, Douglas Wilson observes that people are often trapped by “the expectations game” during the holidays:

Because everyone around you assumes that the day is going to be ‘really good,’ ‘special,’ or ‘fantastic,’ and is constantly telling you to have a ‘merry’ one, it is easy to assume that having a merry Christmas is an actual possession of yours, and if not a possession, at least a birthright. Consequently, the tendency is to sketch out in your mind what you would like that possession to be like. But it turns out, metaphorically speaking, that you get socks instead of the shotgun, or cookware instead of pearls, and the expectation lost is a set-up for real disappointment. This is one of the why holidays can be such an emotional roller coaster ride for so many, and Christmas is no exception.

Now take a look at Colossians 3:12-17, where Paul tells us,

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Says Wilson,

The text obviously deals with how we as Christians are to live all the time, and not just during the holidays. But the holidays are nothing other than what we normally do, ramped up to the next level. And so as we prepare our hearts for this celebration, ramp this up as well. Problems arise when we exert ourselves physically, emotionally, financially, and so on, and we don’t exert ourselves here. Think of this as getting dressed for the season – here, put this on. What should you put on? Tender mercies, kindness, humility of mind, meekness and patience (v. 12). That is holiday garb. When you are clothed this way, what are you dressed for? Snow pants are for going out in the snow, right? What is this clothing for? It is getting dressed for forbearance and forgiveness (v. 13). You are all dressed up and therefore ready to drop a quarrel, and to forgive  as you were forgiven (v. 13). But that is not enough – you need to put on another layer. Over everything else, put on charity, which is the perfect coat, the perfection coat (v. 14). When you have done that, what are you ready for? You are ready for peace with others, and that peace is saturated with gratitude (v. 15). You are also ready for some music, and particularly the music of grace and gratitude (vv. 15-16). And then, to crown all else, you are dress for everything – whatever you do, whether in word or deed, you can do it in the name of Jesus, giving thanks to the Father (v. 17).

The Highest Form of Thought

“I do not, in my private capacity, believe that a baby gets his best physical food by sucking his thumb; nor that a man gets his best moral food by sucking on his soul, and denying its dependence on God or other good things. I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

Osama bin Laden and the Justice of God

In light of the death of Islamic terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, I echo the words of the children of Israel in Exodus 15:1-18, when the Lord destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the depths of the Red Sea:

Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying:

“I will sing to the LORD,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!

The LORD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

The LORD is a man of war;
The LORD is His name.

Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.

The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.

“Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces.

And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.

And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.

The enemy said, ‘I will pursue,
I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be satisfied on them.
I will draw my sword,
My hand shall destroy them.’

You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

“Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?

You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.

You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.

“The people will hear and be afraid;
Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.

Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed;
The mighty men of Moab,
Trembling will take hold of them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.

Fear and dread will fall on them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,
Till Your people pass over, O LORD,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.

You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,
In the place, O LORD, which You have made
For Your own dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.

“The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”

That’s not gloating. That’s gratitude. Profound gratitude. That’s praise to God for bringing the wicked to justice. As Kevin DeYoung wrote in his latest post, “Sometimes we need to be reminded that we live in a moral universe where actions have consequences. And when deathly consequences are merited by despicable actions, we should be glad the world is working as God designed.”