You know when it's easy to be grateful? On Thanksgiving. You know why? Because we spend the whole day stuffing our faces and falling asleep watching football. And then to top it off, many of us schlep ourselves out of our recliners, strap on our coat and mittens, and head out on a retail bender that ends only when we have crossed every item off of our shopping lists. It's really a great day.
You know when it's hard to be grateful? On Tuesday afternoon when your wife calls to tell you that your washing machine is making horrible screeching noises. Or in the morning when you're late for work and your car won't start. Or when you're trying to let off some steam by telling someone what a crummy day you had, but instead of sympathizing, they just try to one-up you with an even worse story about their bad day. No one likes a one-upper.
The difference between me and a truly grateful person is that my attitude is often dependent on my circumstances. When I'm drifting into a turkey-induced coma on Thursday being washed over by the blue din of my television screen, I'll fall asleep with a smile. But that's not really gratitude; that's just enjoying a great set of circumstances. And when my furnace finally kicks the bucket this winter, I won't be giving thanks for all of the great years of service it gave me.
People who exhibit true thanksgiving do so no matter what is happening in their lives. They thank God for the rake that moves all the leaves to the curb and for the wind that blows them all back into their yard. Real gratitude is buried deep in the soil of our character. It's not stirred by strong winds and driving rain doesn't reach it. This Thanksgiving as you laugh with friends and feast, may God continue the work of burying gratitude deep in your heart so that, when someone beats you to the last piece of pumpkin pie, you can rejoice for the apple turnovers.