Prayer: Father, You are so good to us. Your goodness surrounds us to the point that we may take it for granted. For that we are sorry. We never want to reduce Your grace to us to a mere cliché. Help us to live as ones who are truly grateful, thankful, and blessed. Amen
Scripture: Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name! Ps.100:4 AMP
The phrase is on my wall in the kitchen and on a pillow in my living room; perhaps it’s on your desk or wall at school: “Grateful, Thankful, Blessed.” We see it everywhere this time of year in the home décor section of stores and as hashtags on social media. What started as a reminder of truth has sadly become a cliché.
Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate this phrase. According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (my go-to as an English teacher):
GRA’TEFUL, adjective [from Latin gratus. See Grace.]
1. Having a due sense of benefits; kindly disposed towards one from whom a favor has been received; willing to acknowledge and repay benefits; as a grateful heart.
The first thing that catches my eye in this dictionary entry is the link that follows the origin of the word: “See Grace.” The entry for Grace has 20 definitions, so I’ll save those for another time, but it’s good to tuck away as the root of this word, gratitude. Moving on to the definition, I see “willing to acknowledge and repay benefits.” That’s interesting. Grateful always seemed to me to be a passive feeling like, “I’m happy to have received something.” But really, the feeling of being willing to acknowledge and repay benefits is an active attitude. What are you going to do with what you have received? How will you repay it?
Now let’s look at the word Thankful.
THANK’FUL, adjective. Grateful; impressed with a sense of kindness received, and ready to acknowledge it.
The Lord’s supper is to be celebrated with a thankful remembrance of his sufferings and death.
Be thankful to him, and bless his name. Psalms 100:4.
Well, that’s pretty straightforward, no surprises there, but still it implies a desire that is active: “ready to acknowledge it.”
Finally, let’s observe the word Blessed.
BLESS’ED, participle passive. Made happy or prosperous; extolled; pronounced happy.
BLESS’ED, adjective. Happy; prosperous in worldly affairs; enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God; enjoying heavenly felicity.
To go a little deeper: here is the definition of Felicity, still according to Webster:
1. Happiness, or rather great happiness; blessedness; blissfulness; appropriately, the joys of heaven.
When a saying becomes cliche, it’s usually from overuse without appropriate understanding. But by taking the time to re-evaluate the meaning of what we say, we can redeem this phrase and appreciate its sentiments in a deeper way.
When we are Grateful, we recognize the great value of what we have been given, to the point that we are moved to a reciprocal action. When we are Thankful, we are impressed by the kindness that has been bestowed upon us and ready to acknowledge it. And when we are Blessed, we enjoy great happiness and the joys of heaven.
This Thanksgiving, amidst our food preparation and family times, let’s take the time to truly be Grateful, Thankful, and Blessed. We have a good, good Father.
Here’s a link to a worship song that I hope will also bless you today.
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