The fundamental truth behind the late Chuck Colson's counsel on the attitude of gratitude has stood the test of time -- and is even very applicable today, an article shares.
In a post for Christian Headlines, John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint radio host, presented Chuck Colson's thoughts from 2005 about "radical gratitude."
Colson cited the work of university psychologists who did a study on "gratitude and thanksgiving." They reportedly classified the participants into three groups. People in the first group engaged in everyday activities such as keeping a gratitude diary. They exhibited more attentiveness, drive, enthusiasm, and vitality, as well as less despair and anxiety, than the other group. Naturally, they were also much happier than the ones who were instructed to keep track of all the negative events that took place each day.
"One of the psychologists concluded that though a practice of gratitude is a key to most religions, its benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or no faith," explained Colson. "He suggested that anyone can increase his sense of well-being just from counting his blessings."
He also referenced his colleague Ellen Vaughn, who stated in her book, "Radical Gratitude," that "gratitude is a virtue" that no one can deny.
But, according to Vaughn, merely "counting blessings" or pulling an idealist attitude of appreciation towards whoever it may concern is insufficient. She asked what people would do if they were in the middle of brokenness and genuine pain. That, she claims, is when gratitude takes a dramatic turn.
Two types of gratitude
According to Colson, there are two kinds of gratitude in the life of a Christian.
He said that the second kind of gratitude is shown in appreciation for "blessings received." It is a state of mind in which one actively appreciates all "good gifts," giving as examples "life, health, home, family, freedom," and even "a tall, cold lemonade on a summer day."
Colson also cited American preacher Jonathan Edwards, who referred to the higher form of thankfulness as "gracious gratitude." This is about expressing gratitude for "who God is: for His character, goodness, love, power, and excellencies," regardless of the blessings or circumstances experienced.
"And it's real evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a person's life," noted Colson. "This gracious gratitude for who God is also goes to the heart of who we are in Christ. It is relational, rather than conditional."
"The fount of our joy, the love of the God who made us and saved us, cannot be quenched by any power that exists (Romans 8:28-39)," he added. "People who are filled with such radical gratitude are unstoppable, irrepressible, overflowing with what C. S. Lewis called 'the good infection' - the supernatural, refreshing love of God that draws others to Him."
Stonestreet said that Colson's words have remained relevant throughout time due to their truthfulness.
"Despite how much has changed and how much more chaotic the headlines might be today, the core truth underlying his commentary is the same," he commented.
He also emphasized that "truth" defies cultural contexts and age-specific difficulties, because God exists beyond time and space.
"A posture of gratitude is one that recognizes Whose world this actually is," he added, "and how we fit in God's overarching plan to make all things new."