A Season for Humble Gratitude

It’s baaaack! The age-old yuletide season is about to slip in the door once again. Better not shout, better not pout, for the malls will be playing “Jingle Bells” several thousand times between now and December 25.

Christmas
(Image from Unsplash)

If you’re not careful, the crowds and commercialism will weigh you down like that fourth helping of stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner.

And there’s nothing worse than a jaded attitude that resists the true spirit of the season.

Although this has been a challenging year in numerous ways, we have a practical reason to look back over it with gratitude for God’s protection and grace.

This reflection sets in motion the ideal mental attitude to carry us through the weeks ahead.

In other words, a sustained spirit of humble gratitude will make the period leading up to December 25 an integral part of the Christmas celebration rather than a dreadful marathon run toward the finish.

We live in a world fraught with evil—one in which innocent people are gunned down as they go about their business, where world governments seem powerless to stop those whose intent is to control through fear.

But we cannot afford to end the year in frustration.

I—like you—have seen and experienced God’s hand of protection and mercy, even in the toughest moments.

During this holiday season, let’s pledge not to let ingratitude become our creed or allow cynicism to cause a stumbling block.

As we consistently remind our flocks (and ourselves) of God’s provision in our lives and the lives of our loved ones, the holidays will become a special time of spiritual enrichment, personal renewal, and genuine gratitude.

—Chuck

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  • Bo Davidson

    Amen. There is much to be thankful for — God gives us much more than He allows to be taken away. The lesson for me has been humility. Humility through obedience. Humility through surrender. Humility comes in many forms. Submitting to God’s will even when the will does not “seem” to make sense. And trusting in Him all the way. A Christian upbringing did not prepare me for the dark times of life… ironically. I started realizing my Christian upbringing gave me a subtle shade of arrogance. An arrogance so buried deep within me that it became a natural part of who I am and I could not recognize it. But others — unable to define it — still reacted to it. I tended to discount others’ experience if it did not conform to what I thought were Godly principles, but I realized that my spirituality had allowed me to be a pious hypocrite secretly judging others even when I didn’t realize it. While God values me as an individual, there is nothing inherently superior in me to others. I am not more religious. I don’t necessarily make better decisions. I am not necessarily wiser. I am just a human being like everyone else… I’m just using the faculties God gave me to try to find my way in life and sort through the mess. Sometimes it’s easy to take an elevated stance that we have the answers or insight. I realize now that apart from God I have no answer. Even my good choices are often guided by God more than they spring from my own innate goodness.
    Finally I realized a lot of my issues are tied to each other — forgiveness, obedience, humility, love, true acceptance of others. I can say 2012 has been the year when God has ripped to shreds my Hallmark view of Christianity and replaced it with something real.

  • Bo Davidson

    Sorry, I just want to elaborate. It’s easy for Christians in America to look at consumerism and money as a measure of success, and we are often inundated with these stories of believers who say their belief in God led to millions. But this creates an almost universal standard by which to measure the “religiosity” of others. If someone doesn’t have the same material wealth, then they might not have their “stuff together.” But that’s not necessarily true. This type of thinking comes from a top-down approach where we look at others and judge them from a materialistic or solipsist view point. But God is the one who creates us. Psychology and cognitive tests show that humans tend to react predictably to the same unpredictable factors over time. In other words, people who say they would have done something different, probably wouldn’t have unless that additional life altering factor were somehow introduced retroactively (that doesn’t mean that free will is ruled out). Some people were created by God with an accountant’s mind — some were created with the mind of an artist. Some were born tall. Some were born large. Some are designed to go bald, others not. The point is — in some churches, not all, religion becomes a tool for self promotion and elevation. In reality, Christianity is supposed to peel back our prejudice and help us to see with Christ’s love. Part of loving others is understanding their differences and how it contributed to the person they are today. 2012 is the year when God helped me to see that I could have been anyone. I could have been my neighbor next door. I could have been the homeless man in the street. I could be the guy struggling with drugs. I could be. God chose a different path for me. But I could be. And that knowledge has made me more humble and submissive.