During a lunch conversation with a spiritual brother of mine, we discussed the important role that gratitude plays in our lives. Thankfulness is vital to our walk as Christian believers. We readily confessed that maintaining a spirit of gratitude is critical to our sobriety. Thankfulness balances the high highs and low lows that inevitably ebb our way. By nature, addicts are a mix of pridefulness and self-pity.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21 (ESV)
In the midst of our addiction, we are full of pride and selfishness, even though our lives may be in shambles. We convince ourselves of our invincibility and infallibility, while barely hanging on. We saw humility as something for the weak. It is only after facing our addictions and taking an extensive inventory of ourselves that we begin to see the power in humility.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 (ESV)
On the flip-side, we are kings of self-pity. Our overexaggerated sensitivity distorts reality, making everything about us and our shortcomings. We clamor, “Woe is me!” Self-pity is the despondent sorrow we experience mourning over our perceived suffering and misfortune. The cure for self-pity is to focus on God’s goodness and learn to be grateful for the unwarranted grace and mercy He has extended toward us. We are unworthy of such magnificent love as He demonstrated to us through the shed blood of His son, Jesus Christ.
And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:2-3 (ESV)
Humility helps us make less of ourselves. The cure for self-pity helps us make more of God.
Less of me, more of Him.
That’s the answer that guides our lives as recovering addicts, regardless of the nature of our addiction—alcohol, drugs, food, sex, gambling, pornography and any other number of compulsions.
Gratitude pushes aside foolish pride and useless self-pity. When we are prideful, we pervert the image of God in which we are created. When we are full of self-pity, we diminish that same image of God.
Frankly, when we are filled with thankfulness, we are unable to swell with pride or moan with self-pity. Gratitude helps us recognize that God loved us so much so that while we were yet sinners, He gave His son as means of atoning for a debt we incurred. Through Christ, we can experience the full grace and abundant mercy of our loving Creator.
It’s not about us. It’s about Him.
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29 (ESV)
Be thankful today. Keep your heart and mind filled with a spirit of gratitude.