Fostering Spiritual Resiliency Through Gratitude

Fostering Spiritual Resiliency Through Gratitude

By Pine Rest Chaplain Jim Holwerda

“Thank you” is a statement that is so ordinary that the words are often dismissed as a routine courtesy rather than true expression of gratitude.

For Meister Eckhart (14th Century Christian Monk), “thank you” was all that needed to be said to the divine. “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”

Imam Ash Shafi’i (9th century Muslim leader) emphasized the gift of gratitude. “To be able to thank Allah for a blessing is a blessing within itself.”

Each gift from the divine comes with a BOGO offer; there is goodness itself and there is the blessing of saying “thank you” for that goodness.

There are other reasons to emphasize gratitude. Oprah Winfrey (21st century media mogul) thinks gratitude is the key to prosperity. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, EVER have enough.”

Finally, no less an authority than Willie Nelson testifies to the power of gratitude. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” He found new direction simply by counting  his blessings.

While counting one’s blessings may be simple, it isn’t easy. The psychologist Eric Hoffer wrote, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.”

Which of the above quotes seems especially true? Which one do you wonder about?

“Thank you” holds deep meaning and channels life-altering power. When the goal is resilience, expressions of gratitude are the first place to look. While gratitude may not alter the givens of our lives and situations, it revolutionizes our attitude toward those givens.

Melody Beattie, leading author in the field of addiction and co-dependence, wrote:

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

  • It turns what we have into enough, and more.

  • It turns denial into acceptance; chaos to order; confusion to clarity.

  • It turns problems into gifts; failures into successes; the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.

  • It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons.

  • Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Gratitude makes things right …

  • There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude’s power. We can start with who we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.”

Ms. Beattie believes gratitude is very powerful. To which transformation are you drawn?

Here are some practices to nurture an attitude of gratitude.

Experiment with them. Find your favorite.

Spend three minutes writing down as many good things as you can think of

Think of things great and small. See if you can come up with 50 items. Be specific. Not “clothes” but “shirt, pants, belt, shoes,” and you are well on your way to 50!

Spend three minutes in silence repeating the mantra, “Thank you,” as you exhale.

(Not necessarily with each breath, just periodically–like CPR “rescue breaths.”)

Share your gratitude with others.

Go out of your way to say “thank you” to three people. You could also write three thank you cards, emails or texts.

Journal about three good things at the end of the day.

Write “thank you” for each item.

Practice one or more of these regularly and stand back. Something simply extraordinary is happening.


Rev. Jim Holwerda is a Board Certified Chaplain who has worked at Pine Rest from 1997-2010, and from 2014-today. In his varied career he has also pastored two churches, from 1981 to 1997, and served as the chaplain of a foundation providing poverty relief, from 2011-2014.

Rev. Holwerda’s appreciation of gratitude was deepened by sitting at the feet of men and women with addictions, who cope with the chaos in their lives and brains by cultivating an “attitude of gratitude.”

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