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On being grateful

On being grateful
Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

By Jessica Brodie

As the mother of preteens, I hear the word “entitled” bandied about a lot. My kids are in Generation Z, which is the first generation to grow up in an entirely digital world, and they are fully accustomed to all things electronic and adapt to new technologies quickly and easily.

Entitled is a funny word. It doesn’t really mean spoiled but is really just a sense that you are somehow able to access or receive something just because you happen to live in a certain community, are a member of a certain household—or because you offered a nice smile and are accustomed to things going your way.

For instance, my daughter thought she was fully entitled to receive a brand new iPhone when she entered middle school simply because most of her other friends had one and she thought that was a normal rite of passage. (Nope!) I know kids who turn 16 and walk into a restaurant or shop and expect to be hired just because they feel believe they should work there, or they graduate from college and think they are guaranteed a job. It doesn’t matter how many times their parents or their teachers tell them otherwise; they somehow still get that message.

It’s one of the hardest things to learn, isn’t it? The truth that we’re not really guaranteed anything at all. We are born, yes, but there’s no guarantee we’ll make it to adulthood.

We might live our lives in a safe and careful manner, but there’s no guarantee we won’t find ourselves the victim of a drunk driving accident or a random act of violence. We can work hard, but there’s no guarantee we’ll get a raise or even survive the next round of corporate layoffs.

And yet the antidote to entitlement is often something unexpected: Gratitude.

The one thing we can rest assured in is that if we believe Jesus is the Son of God and earnestly repent of our sins, then we can share eternity in heaven with God our Father.

Being grateful for the good and the bad changes our perspective. As we are urged in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NIV). It’s tough sometimes to thank God when things are hard, but gratitude isn’t about what we receive. It’s the peace that comes from understanding we are safe and secure in the hands of our Lord and Savior no matter what—times of trouble and times of plenty.

And 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” We don’t have to do a thing to earn it. He loves us because He is good—not because we are good or did anything to deserve it.

This Thanksgiving, even if life is hard, take a look around you with a new heart at what you do have. And remember: The tangible and earthly are temporary, but Jesus is eternal.

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