Being grateful in all things
|Gratitude. We all feel it for one reason or another. Grateful for our families or homes, grateful for our countries or communities, we all feel it for some reason. It's easy when there's a holiday or event to say we're glad to have family close by or appreciate the celebration and all it involves. Food, lights, and a happy demeanor are more expected at times like this.
But what was Jesus grateful for? He had family and friends to celebrate events with. He had traditions to observe. Jesus was part of His people at birth and part of that community starting on the eighth day after His birth, the day of circumcision. The same types of things that we are grateful for existed for Jesus, too. He offered thanks to God for all this, but not these things alone. When we think of those bright, delightful times, we are often considering how much better they are than our ordinary days. We see a time worth rejoicing, a time of joy and plenty, an improved time for us, for our lives.
Jesus didn't make that comparison. Jesus had a more enjoyable time then than on other, more ordinary days. But for Jesus, these days weren't the best He'd known. The best was in Heaven, the place He willingly left behind. The best meant no physical needs, such as food or sleep. The best had no inclement weather or insects to contend with. The best didn't require travel delays or last-minute shopping. The best---being in Heaven---meant being with His Father. And there is nothing better than that eternal best.
So Jesus, in living through weddings and holy feast days, willingly separated Himself from the best God offered; Jesus surrendered the best He had to live with us. We know Jesus was grateful at these times, because ingratitude is a sin, and Jesus is without sin. But He took it farther than that. Jesus was grateful to be here on earth. Every moment Jesus was hungry, dirty, cold, or lonely, He still thanked God. Every time Jesus was slandered or accused or disregarded, He felt grateful. With every bit of perspiration, every tear, and each drop of blood, Jesus never lost His thankfulness. When Jesus was betrayed by a follower, abandoned by His friends, and condemned by those who shouted Hosanna a few days prior, He still thanked God. What was the thanks for? For God giving Jesus the instructions on what to do and how to live, moment by moment. When the moments were difficult or painful, Jesus still gave thanks, because He was enacting the Father's will. That mattered more than the loneliness and betrayal and abandonment. It mattered more than the pain and suffering and brutality. It mattered to Jesus because it was the Father's will. God's will was to save us. That is why Jesus gave up the best. Without His sacrifice of the best and His willingness to decrease, we would not know God. Jesus not only gave up His best, He accepted the worst humankind could offer so we might have the best too.
With Jesus as our model, how can we not give thanks in all things?