Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17There is a simple attitude that determines in our own minds whether we are rich or poor, blessed or cursed, and fundamentally positive or negative about life. To make that enormous of a difference, that attitude must be incredibly powerful. And it is. That attitude is gratitude.
One person gets a job and is thrilled to be a contributing member of a team—and to be paid for it to boot. Another person gets the same job with the same company and with the same pay and benefits and feels cheated. One person literally has a great job and the other has an equally crummy job. Why? The difference is an attitude of gratitude.
One teen looks under the Christmas tree, finds a simple and thoughtful gift from her mom, and knows she is loved; all that another teen can think about as he tears the glossy wrapping paper from the box is the new cell phone model he didn’t get. She had a great Christmas morning and got absolutely everything she wanted; he had a lousy Christmas and didn’t get anything good. Again the only difference was gratitude.
After a long pregnancy that generated more questions than congratulations; that nearly led to a marriage ending before it started; that included a painful and arduous journey; that culminated in her son being born in conditions fit for animals but not for humans, how did Mary respond? Luke tells us that she “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (2:19). In Bethlehem, among the animals, she found joy. She could have complained that God was doing nothing good for her, that her husband was a lousy provider, that the innkeeper should be put in prison for denying her a bed in the house, but instead she declared the “great things” God had done (Luke 1:49).
This central Christmas story—and the joys and challenges of our modern holiday—remind us that gratitude changes everything. Whether there are gifts stacked to the ceiling with your name on them or you aren’t sure anyone is going to give you anything, stop and give thanks to God, the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. You’ll receive a special blessing in your spirit and discover you have everything you need.