“Gratitude, Grace and Joy”, from Henri Nouwen (Faith, God’s Presence, Hidden Blessings)

Quotes on Gratitude from Henri Nouwen:

“In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realise that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

“Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of  complaint. I can choose to be grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. I can choose to listen to the voices that forgive and to look at the faces that smile, even while I still hear words of revenge and see grimaces of hatred.”

“There is always the choice between resentment and gratitude because God has appeared in my darkness, urged me to come home, and declared in a voice filled with affection: “You are with Me always, and all I have is yours.” Indeed, I can choose to dwell in the darkness in which I stand, point to those who are seemingly better off than I, lament about the many misfortunes that have plagued me in the past, and thereby wrap myself up in my resentment. But I don’t have to do this. There is the option to look into the eyes of the One who came out to search for me and see therein that all I am and all I have is pure gift calling for gratitude.”

Gratitude is a choice to encounter grace

“The choice for gratitude rarely comes without some real effort. But each time I make it, the next choice is a little easier, a little freer, a little less self-conscious. Because every gift I acknowledge reveals another and another until finally, even the most normal, obvious, and seemingly mundane event or encounter proves to be filled with grace. There is an Estonian proverb that says: “Who does not thank for little will not thank for much.” Acts of gratitude make one grateful because, step by step, they reveal that all is grace.” (The return of the Prodigal Son,85)

“Of course, it is easy for me to push the bad memories under the rug of my consciousness and think only about the good things that please me. It seems to be the way to fulfillment. By doing so, however, I keep myself from discovering the joy beneath the sorrow, the meaning to be coaxed out of even painful memories. I miss finding the strength that becomes visible in my weakness, HIS grace God told Paul would be “sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

“Gratitude helps us in this dance (of life) only if we cultivate it. For gratitude is not a simple emotion or an obvious attitude. Living gratefully requires practice. It takes sustained effort to reclaim my whole past as the concrete way God has led me to this moment. For in doing so I must face not only today’s hurts, but the past’s experiences of rejection or abandonment or failure or fear. While Jesus told His followers that they were intimately related to Him as branches are to a vine, they still needed to be pruned to bear more fruit (see John 15:1-5). Pruning means cutting, reshaping, removing what diminishes vitality. When we look at a pruned vineyard, we can hardly believe it will bear fruit. But when harvest comes, we realise that the pruning allows the vines to concentrate their energy and produce more grapes.

“Grateful people learn to celebrate even amid life’s hard and harrowing memories because they know that pruning is no mere punishment, but preparation. When our gratitude for the past is only partial, our hope for the future can likewise never be full. But our submitting to God’s pruning work will not ultimately leave us sad but hopeful for what can happen in us and through us. Harvest time will bring its own blessings.

Everything is Grace

 “I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.” As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.

“Instead, we can learn to see our remembered experiences of our past as an opportunity for ongoing conversion of the heart. We let what we remember remind us of whose we are—not our own, but God’s. If we are to be truly ready for a new life in the service of God, truly joyful at the prospect of God’s unfolding vocation for our lives, truly free to be sent wherever God guides, our entire past, gathered into the spaciousness of a converted heart, must become the source of energy that moves us onward.” (Turn My Mourning into Dancing, 18-20)

“It is so easy for me to put the bad memories under the rug of my life and to think only about the good things that please me. By doing so, however, I prevent myself from discovering the joy beneath my sorrow, the peace hidden in the midst of my conflicts, and the strength that becomes visible in the midst of my weakness.” (All is Grace, 40)

“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.”

God at the Center of all Life

“A life of faith is a life of gratitude—it means a life in which I am willing to experience my complete dependence upon God and to praise and thank Him unceasingly for the gift of being alive. A truly eucharistic life means always saying thanks to God, always praising God, and continuing to be surprised by the abundance of God’s goodness and love. How can such an attitude not lead to a joyful life? It is the truly converted and blessed life in which God has become the center of all. There gratitude is joy and joy is gratitude and everything becomes a surprising sign of God’s presence.”(Show me the Way, 15)

“Joy and gratitude are the qualities of the heart by which we recognise those who are committed to a life of service in the path of Jesus Christ.. . .Wherever we see real service we also see joy, because in the midst of service a divine presence becomes visible and a gift is offered. Therefore, those who serve as followers of Jesus discover that they are receiving more than they are giving. Just as a mother does not need to be rewarded for the attention she pays to her child, because her child is her joy, so those who serve their neighbour will find their reward in the people whom they serve. The joy of those who follow their Lord on His self-emptying and humbling way shows that what they seek is not misery and pain but the God whose compassion they have felt in their own lives. Their eyes do not focus on poverty and misery, but on the face of the loving. (Compassion, 32)

“The Heavenly Gate”, a worship poem from L.Willows (God’s Glory, God’s Love, Heaven, and Earth)

The Heavenly Gate

I have seen a place where we all rise…
God’s symphony lifts clouds in a dance to the skies.
All of the heavens are opened at His Gate,
there in the roam of a Paradise state.

Kept by a sweetness, I felt someone near-
all of life’s friendships, everyone dear.
Touched by all heart songs, there I could dance
drawn like a bird who could fly into the expanse.

Here in the midst of All Love, I was called
into the blushing of winds that worshiped, enthralled.
Stepping out from all that keeps us astray
the Threshold had beckoned and swept me away.

There were no tears or burdens in this quiet place bright.
Sunshine of warmth beckoned all towards The Light.
I cast off one shoe, then the other, then Free!
Soon I was dancing with another like me.

I remember the Motion that swept through me there
cast from some other; as wind through reed’s prayer.
This, in holy, roam at God’s heavenly Gate
I danced, mingled with the winds in sweet moments elate.

© 2019 Linda Willows

Revelation 21:4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Matthew 7:13-14 -Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

“The Power of Gratitude”, Christian Quotes (Transformation, True Joy, God’s mercies)

The Power of Gratitude

“Gratitude goes beyond ‘mine’ and ‘thine’ and claims the truth that all life is a gift. In the past, I always thought of gratitude as being a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts that I have received but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all that I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” –Henry Nouwen.

“Gratitude changes the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy. “–Deitrich Bonhoeffer

“We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” –J.I. Packer

“A sensible thanksgiving for mercies received is a mighty prayer in the Spirit of God. It prevails with Him unspeakably.” –John Bunyan

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference..” –Thomas Merton

 “It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich!”  –Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” –C.S. Lewis

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”–Henry Ward Beecher

“A spirit of thankfulness is one of the most distinctive marks of a Christian whose heart is attuned to the Lord. Thank God in the midst of trials and every persecution.” –Billy Graham

“To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.” –Henry Nouwen

 “We need to discover all over again that worship is natural to the Christian, as it was to the godly Israelites who wrote the psalms, and that the habit of celebrating the greatness and graciousness of God yields an endless flow of thankfulness, joy, and zeal.” –J.I. Packer