The Quality of Our GratitudeMay 2, 2023 - 12:00 am
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. — Psalm 9:1
In honour of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.
By now, most of us have realized that expressing our gratitude toward God is more a gift that we give to ourselves than one we give to God. As it is said, happiness does not produce gratitude as much as gratitude produces happiness. Thankfulness has been recognized as a sure way to improve every aspect of our lives — from our spiritual connection to our emotional and physical wellbeing. As a result, many people have made it a point to look for ways to increase their daily gratitude. However, in Psalm 9, King David teaches us that gratitude is not just about quantity; it’s about quality, too.
There are different levels of giving gratitude. Sometimes, we express thanks, yet our emotions are not behind our words. Other times, we may feel some connection to our words but on a low level. Still, there are times when we authentically express our gratitude, but unwittingly move to another place just as soon as we utter the words. For example, “I’m so grateful for my spouse… I just wish he or she were a little bit different.” Gratitude for what we have quickly shifts to a focus on what we lack — almost defeating the purpose of giving thanks in the first place!
In Psalm 9, King David expressed gratitude of the highest quality. He wrote, “I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart.” What does it mean to give thanks “with all my heart?” We often express thankfulness with a divided heart. Part of our heart is grateful, part focuses on what we lack — or what we think we may lack in the future. We say, “I am so grateful for my house… but I’m nervous that I won’t have one in the future!” Or “I’m so grateful for my family… what if something bad happens to one of them?”
Today, let’s try to follow David’s lead and give thanks to the Lord with all our heart, focusing only on the present moment and not getting caught up in the past or worrying about the future. As we read in Psalm 118:24, “The LORD has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.” Ask yourself: What blessings are in my life today?
Your turn: Try spending two minutes expressing gratitude with one, undivided heart. I can assure you that you will feel a difference in the quality of your gratitude, and with that you just might see a difference in your life, as well.