I just finished a book called Attitude of Gratitude, by M.J. Ryan. This is the third book by this author I've read and she always manages to inspire and encourage me to grow and follow Jesus' teachings more closely in my daily life.
Which is interesting, considering the author appears to adopt some Buddhist views. (That would be my disclaimer for any potential readers.) Yet despite our differing views on where we come from and where we're going, M.J. and I seem to agree on the middle part of the journey.
Her passion for living in the moment and being grateful for the blessings of each day are attitudes that we as followers of Christ should embrace. Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, that our Father will take care of it just as He does for the lilies and the sparrows. St. Paul tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, to be content in whatever state.
Through some very real struggles this past year, I have realized anew how important gratitude is in all circumstances. No matter how difficult a cross we are carrying, there are always blessings to recognize if we have the eyes to see.
In the midst of weariness, we can be thankful for the strength and grace of God. In the midst of heartache, we can be thankful that He knows and He cares. When people let us down, we can be thankful for the friends who are tried and true. When we're uncertain about the future, we can be thankful for the family and loved ones who support and encourage us. When we feel like we're in a stretching season, we can be thankful for the hope that God is molding and changing us-- even if we may not see the whole picture yet.
Living with gratitude makes life shine with beauty. Sometimes life is crazy, difficult, painful. But when we embrace gratitude...looking up to the Giver instead of inside ourselves...life is definitely beautiful.