What’s Faith Got to Do With It?
Is there a connection between our faith and gratitude?
What does faith have to do with our ability to be grateful?
Most of us understand that gratitude is a choice.
Dr. Viktor Frankl says, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Our circumstances don’t dictate our attitude; we do.
Our attitude, in turn, has the ability to propel us out of our circumstances.
Hal Urban quotes a study in his book, Life’s Greatest Lessons, which concluded that up to 85% of our success in life is due to attitude, and ability only makes up the remaining 15% (p. 40, Life’s Greatest Lessons).
That is both a sobering statistic and an encouraging one. Sobering, because it puts the responsibility squarely in our court. Encouraging, for the same reason.
You’ve surely heard the old axiom, “attitude determines altitude”.
What then, is the basis of a positive attitude? What enables us to live each day with grateful hearts?
Faith is the Root; Attitude the Shoot
I believe a great attitude and a truly thankful heart are the outgrowths of the root of faith.
Sure, we can go about it another way, and read lots of books on positive thinking.
We can try to patch up our bad attitudes and give ourselves a 30-day thankfulness challenge.
Or we can look below the soil and see why our lives are producing what they are.
Our basic, bedrock level beliefs are the roots of the shoots that spring up in our daily lives.
If the shoots need to improve, we need to check the health of the root.
Very much like in math, where one small miscalculation takes the equation on an entirely different trajectory to the wrong destination. The trajectory of our lives will take us where our root beliefs determine, whether or not we admit those beliefs to ourselves or others.
A healthy root of faith that God is, that He is good, that He loves us, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him will produce shoots of trust and gratitude (which will be seen in our attitude).
A root that has been (and here my garden knowledge becomes thin and spotty) attacked by grub worms and eaten through will produce very different growth…poor, stunted, and withered.
The root of our faith will always determine the health of our attitude.
Do I truly believe that my steps are ordered by God, that I am here to serve Him and to allow my life to bring Him glory? Or do I believe He is untrustworthy, doesn’t have my best interest at heart, has “done me wrong” and owes me better?
Those beliefs, even if we don’t consciously admit them to ourselves, are the basis for our attitudes and actions. The root determines the fruit.
Does a healthy, solid root of faith ensure a carefree life? No, it sure doesn’t. We will still have struggles, disappointments, and heartaches like everyone else, but even in the midst, our faith will enable us to see evidence of God’s care. We will be able to look back over the path already traveled and see many reasons to be thankful. Faith will enable us to live in the tension between who God is and what we see what our natural eyes before everything in this world is made right once again.
Root Health Check
If we discover that the root of our faith needs some attention, what can be done?
We can pray, along with the centurion, “I believe! Lord, help my unbelief!”. We can ask Him to remove from us that which blinds us to His goodness and to give us eyes to see Him as He truly is. We can immerse ourselves daily in His life-giving Word and allow the measure of faith He has already given us to grow as it is tended.
My daughter recently planted some herb seeds. She has made several herbal remedies lately and is branching out into cultivating her own plants. If she simply poked the seeds into the dirt and went on with her life, it is highly doubtful that she will have flowers and leaves to harvest later on. The young plants must be carefully tended, watered, placed in the correct amount of sunlight, and kept weed-free. They must be sheltered enough, but not so much that the wind can never reach them, for without adversity neither plant nor human will grow.
Such is our fledgling faith. If we are trying to increase our faith, it must be tended. It needs to be watered daily with God’s Word, given the light of His presence, and the practice of being put to use in real life trials and tribulations so that it will be strengthened and proved real. Everything about our lives can be greatly impacted for the good by a daily choice to be grateful and have a great attitude, and our choice to have a great attitude is given wings to fly by the faith that grounds it.
What choice will you make today?
Happy Thanksgiving from my heart to yours to all the American readers, both here and abroad! May our hearts be truly thankful.
With faith, hope, and love,