The Power of Gratitude
My friend is dying. He said, “I looked out the window of my office. I saw the beauty of my surroundings. I asked God, ‘Can’t I stay just a few more years?’”
My friend told me this last week. I can’t stop thinking about it. And the more I think about it, the more I understand what is essential in life. His thinking exposed me to much I now appreciate.
My friend loves his wife, his children, his son and daughter-in-law, his grandchildren, his purposeful work and ministry, his friends, and his church family. In short, he loves his life and does not want to leave it.
I love all of this too. But am I grateful?
I once told this same friend how I sometimes battle depression.
He, like me, is one of those people whose reflex is to give advice.
He said, “Each day, I write a list of all the things I am grateful for. I am amazed at how the list seems to grow and grow. The people, the circumstances, the beauty, the problems, the way things have worked out. Even the illness I am struggling with.”
One day I followed his advice. I was depressed. I was in one of those dark moods which blots out any sense of optimism. Sometimes even hope. I wrote the list. It was difficult. I realized my list always starts with people. It never really has anything to do with my stuff or even my environment. People. Always people.
Truth be told. My making this “gratitude list” didn’t help me. It didn’t overcome the depression.
Then I realized, I need to write the list to avoid depression, not overcome it. My friend doesn’t seem to suffer from depression because he is grateful from the moment he opens his eyes. And then he writes his list of all he is grateful for. That is the key.
For you, my friend, I am grateful.