5 Reasons to be Thankful, Right Now
By and large, we are a discontented people living in a land of bounty.
We pine for the latest technology gadget. We use social media to measure our blessings — our homes, vacations, children, haircuts — against those of others. When we come up short, we’re tempted to feel that we’ve been cheated.
Of course, this fallen world also provides plenty of real reasons to be anxious, angry or sad. War. Injustice. Hatred. Poverty. Political strife. Abortion. Cultural decay. Crime. Broken relationships.
And yet … if you are reading this column right now, you also have plenty of reasons to be grateful, no matter what your circumstances. Let me give you just five.
1. You Get to Choose Your Attitude
Your situation may be dreadful. Your future may look bleak. Maybe you have been hurt by loved ones or suffered a great injustice. Perhaps you are sick, and the prognosis is not promising. None of this changes the fact that you, and you alone, have the power to choose how you will respond.
This might seem like a small thing, but it is one of the greatest powers that any of us has. How you use it will determine the course of your life and the essence of your legacy.
I have a friend who has suffered through many years of sickness. She has lived with diagnoses that would strike at anyone’s peace. And yet, her presence is a breath of fresh air to everyone she encounters. She has chosen love, and joy. So can you and I.
2. You Can Read, So You Can Learn
If you can read this column, then you can read a book. And if you can read a book, the world is your oyster.
Through reading, you can plumb the depths of history’s most inspiring personalities. From Jesus Christ, to Abraham Lincoln, to Mother Theresa, you can read about the attitudes, words, and actions that changed the course of history.
Through reading, you can take advantage of decades — even centuries — of knowledge that those before you accumulated. You can learn about places you will never visit and events that shook the world. As long as the opportunity to read lies before you, you possess a priceless treasure.
3. The World is a Fascinating Place, Full of Goodness, Truth and Beauty
My father used to tell me, “If you’re bored, you have only yourself to blame.” He was right. Nature is endlessly amazing. People are inherently interesting. When I find myself down in the dumps, it usually means I’ve been spending too much time thinking about my own situation, and not enough time paying attention to the wonder unfolding all around me.
When you look up and look out, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the splendor of a morning sky, the reliability of gravity. If you need to be inspired, go talk to someone who volunteers in any capacity, for any cause.
4. Life Has Meaning
Mankind was created for a purpose. The Creator who revealed himself to us has told us what it is. It is to love our Creator and to love others. I don’t mean the modern, sex-obsessed love of our pop culture. I mean the love that is true, and tough, and real. Learning to love that way is a daunting and worthy quest.
Those who insist that there is no Creator may understandably be depressed. After all, if man is just some accident of an impersonal cosmos, how can our lives possibly have any meaning? Why would they matter?
And yet, each time a person experiences joy or witnesses sacrificial love, he or she is reminded that man is no mere material. Those experiences only make sense because each of us was created by a personal God, to bear His image. That is cause for deep gratitude and awe.
5. We Have Hope
Hope may be hard to find for those who seek it in the here and now. But, as C.S. Lewis famously said, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
The part of us that exults in that moment in the movie when the father risks his life for his son; the part that rages against the evils of racism, injustice, and violence; the aching grief we experience when a loved one dies — these are the signals that we were made for something gloriously better than the present, bittersweet world.
When we rail against all that is wrong, we are on to something. We are longing for a world where things are made right. And because we were created by a real God, who loves us, revealed Himself to us, and sent His Son to rescue us, this is, precisely, our hope.
Rita Dunaway is a constitutional attorney, the author of Restoring America’s Soul: Advancing Timeless Conservative Principles in a Wayward Culture, and co-host of the weekly radio program, “Crossroads: Where Faith and Culture Meet.”