Why is gratitude difficult?

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. -Isaiah 12:1

Dear members and friends, 

In a way, nature and nurture describes how each of us are formed into who we are. There is a good portion of what we are and can become that is already determined at the time of our birth. And, there is another good portion of what we are and can become that is determined by the environment and opportunities given to us after birth. In short, it is an undeniable fact that a huge portion of what determines our personality and ability is given to us rather than chosen by us. Thus, having a positive attitude toward life that could lead one to gratitude may appear a bit easier for those blessed with positive influences compared to negative ones. Yet reality may not be that simple. I have met people who seem to be filled with complaints about their life regardless of apparent blessings and gifts, while others who embrace optimism despite many difficulties and challenges. One undeniable truth is that despite all the odds, the essential quality of our life is determined by our own volitional choice in how we feel, behave, and express our feelings to each other.   

There is a saying in Korea: “It is always easy to blame others, but hard to be thankful to others.” What this means is that we often do not hesitate to blame others for any troubles, yet we refuse to express gratitude and acknowledge what others have done for us. Why is thankfulness so challenging? The reason is simple: our inherent self-centeredness. “I” want to believe that “I” am always right, which could lead to belief that “I” deserve all the good things including the services of others. In other words, human minds tend to take good things done by others for granted. Therefore, to be thankful, we need to acknowledge two things: 1. “I” am often not right because “I” am often selfish; 2. People do good things for me not because I deserve them, but because there is goodness in their hearts. For a long time, I was not thankful because I believed that nothing good was ever given to me. Later, I was enlightened by the Lord to the truth that my own anger disabled my mind from seeing and acknowledging the good all around me! My brothers and sisters in God, let us remember that regardless of our blessings or misfortunes in life, there is always cause for gratitude. 

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee