2017: Resolve to Live Gratefully
“I resolve to make this a year of living gratefully.”
In the first chapel service of 2017, the Tyndale community was challenged to join chapel speaker Dr. Janet Clark, Dean of the Seminary, in her resolve to live gratefully in the New Year.
Dr. Clark explored how we as a community of believers can cultivate a spirit of gratitude in our everyday lives. For those of us who spend much of our time in an academic environment, this can be an even greater challenge. In academia, critical thinking skills are key, and yet for some “it’s just a baby step from good critical thinking to having a critical spirit – the kind of spirit that quickly defaults to seeing the problem, the gap, the flaw…,” says Dr. Clark.
“Over the years I have become increasingly convinced that thinking critically and thinking gratefully have to go hand in hand. And even as we can spend years of our educational lives developing good critical thinking skills, we need to invest in cultivating the habitus of grateful thinking.”
What is there to guide us on this journey of learning to live gratefully? Dr. Clark points to the Psalms of David, in particular Psalm 103: 1-5, which reads:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Like David, we may often find ourselves listing off the things we are thankful for in prayer – our family, a roof over our head, food on the table, our country. But how does David’s list compare with ours? Dr. Clark notes that the Psalmist’s list does not include anything material or physical, but rather soul benefits.
“I think the key to understanding David’s perspective is to ask: to whom is this Psalm written? It is clear that David is addressing himself – in particular, his soul, his inmost being. And so the benefits that he lists are benefits that have been lavished on his soul. We can call them soul benefits, and that’s what David praises God for,” says Dr. Clark.
As we contemplate God’s word and consider how we might learn to live out a spirit of gratitude in 2017, may the changes in our hearts and actions “become a habit of the heart for a lifetime.”