An Attitude of Gratitude
By Don Umphrey
(Biblical citations from the NIV)
During my decade of daily beer and booze consumption, I never gave a thought to the notion of gratitude. I consistently turned to alcohol to give me what I thought I needed. In denial I had no idea that my life was on a downward trajectory until I reached a point where suicide like the only solution.
The following Bible passages about drunkards describe what my life was like:
“Woe to those who rise early in the morning to run after their drinks, who stay up late at night till they are inflamed with wine… they have no regard for the deeds of the Lord, no respect for the work of his hands” (Isaiah 5:11-12).
“…Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. ‘They hit me,’ you will say, ‘but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it. When will I wake up so I can find another drink?” (Proverbs 23:33, 35b).
As a drunkard I claimed to be an atheist. I imagine there are many people who either ignore or turn their backs on God because of their chosen lifestyles. The reason why may be inferred by this statement from Jesus. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).
From the time I was a senior in high school until age 27, alcohol was my “higher power.” It never occurred to me to express gratitude to God or any human being except to someone who bought me a drink.
Most addicted people would have a similar focus and the following sentence would apply to them: “Ingratitude shows up in the lives of people in a variety of ways: complaining, bitterness, jealousy and discontentment.”1 j
Tied to Narcissism
“People who are ungrateful tend to be characterized by an excessive sense of self-importance, arrogance, vanity, and an unquenchable need for admiration and approval. Narcissists reject the ties that bind people into relationships of reciprocity. They expect special favors and feel no need to pay back or pay forward.”2
On the other hand “expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease… Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”3
Heard in 12-Step Groups
I first started hearing about the value of gratitude after I hit bottom and joined a 12-step recovery group. People in such groups like to say, “My attitude is gratitude.”
Today, I express gratitude to God on a daily basis—not only for my sobriety but also for many good things that have occurred during my years of sobriety.
In the passage that follows Jesus called attention to nine people who failed to express gratitude. "Jesus healed ten lepers. Only one of those who were healed returned to give him thanks. “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Has no one turned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’” (Luke 17:17).
Gratitude in the Bible
Below are some Bible verses related to gratitude:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).
“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all His benefits — who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” (Psalm 103:1-4).
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7).
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:15-17)
“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).
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Copyright 2023 by Don Umphrey
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