Practicing Gratitude

08-08-2021(Being) Catholic MattersDavid Lins

The majority of the time, this space focuses on an aspect of Sunday’s Gospel. But this week, a tiny line from Psalm 34 caught my eye: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.”

I suspect it grabbed my attention because of the tremendous challenge it contains.

It’s tempting to think that blessing the Lord in good times is a breeze. Not so. Reflect on health. What percentage of our days do we lift prayers of gratitude in times of good health? And what percentage of our days of poor health do we pray for healing?

And if it isn’t a matter of taking blessing for granted, we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking we alone are responsible for our good fortune.

Our work ethic and wise decisions can bring about wonderful things in this life, but if we are truly humble, we realize that our work ethic only magnifies our blessings of education, opportunity, etc. And we also recognize our wisdom is, in itself, a blessing. The antidote is to pray for humility.

On the flip side, blessing the Lord in times of struggle, illness, and hardship can seem impossible. To be honest, those who have suffered deeply understand it takes effort to breathe.

This Psalm isn’t asking us to walk around with big, goofy grins in a deep, dark pit. But this Psalm does challenge us to continue to praise God in the depths.

The antidote is to practice gratitude for the remaining blessings, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Can you walk? Thank God. Do you sleep on a bed? With a roof over your head? Thank God.

It must also be said that you do not have to struggle alone. We live in a society where you can reach out for help. In survival, there is something called the death spiral—lack of food and water causes lethargy—which in turn makes it harder to find food and water. Psychologically, it can be much the same. But you must do what you don’t want to do. Reach out. Find help. Often, God helps us through others. We just need to let Him...

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