Living a Life of Gratitude to The Appreciative Lord
And What a Truly Beautiful Lord We Have
It is only natural that, on and around Thanksgiving, we make a point of expressing appreciation to those around us: our family, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors, and others. While we should be thanking everyone every day, Thanksgiving places saying thanks in the fore of our minds’ eyes. It is only natural.
As the holiday fades into the chaos of the Christmas shopping frenzy, however, this sentiment seems to fade away. This is sad, for being grateful for the blessings one enjoys should be an everyday experience. And just like I should be thanking everyone around me every day, I should also be thanking God all the time every single day. This is because everything I have, everything I do, everything I accomplish is thanks to His grace, His will, His wisdom, and His power.
This kind of life — one of gratitude — is the kind of life I am striving to live. Imam Jaʿfar al-Ṣ ādiq, one of the descendants of Imam Ali— the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) cousin and son-in-law, is reported to have said, “Worship is of three kinds: some people worship God out of fear, and that is the worship of slaves; other people worship God seeking reward, and that is the worship of hirelings; and some people worship God out of love, and that is the worship of those who are free, and that is the most excellent worship.”
From where does this love come? It comes from intense gratitude. Gratitude for the intense blessings, gratitude for the intense mercy, gratitude for the intense kindness shown to us by the Lord in the face of our sins. And in gratitude, we live a life of righteousness to the best of our ability.
The Prophet, peace be upon him, used to stand in worship until his feet would swell, out of gratitude. None of us can reach this level of devotion. At the same time, we can all strive to do our best: worship as much as we can, control our base desires as much as we can, give back to His servants as much as we can, all in the name of gratitude.
And when we worship out of grateful love, it will not be seen as a “burden” or something that makes no sense. There are some who, once they have been given so much, turn their backs on faith. To me, this is the pinnacle of ingratitude. If anything, that more we are given, the more we need to do in gratitude. I don’t always live up to this standard, and at the same time, I keep trying as much as I can.
And do you know what the best part is? All our efforts, all our struggles, all our striving to live a life of righteousness is rewarded with God’s appreciation:
Upon them are garments of fine green silk and rich brocade. They are adorned with silvern bracelets, and their Lord shall give them to drink of a drink most pure. Truly this is a reward for you, and your endeavoring is held in gratitude. (76:21-22)
Every time I think of this, I am in speechless awe and amazement. God Himself, Lord on High, Creator of everything from nothing, is appreciative of our endeavors? What king is appreciative of his subjects’ toils? What Emperor appreciates his aides’ efforts? What Master appreciates the work of his servants?
Our Lord, on the other hand — the King of Kings, Lord of Emperors, Master of Masters — appreciates what we do for Him. Indeed, what a truly Beautiful Lord we have. And because of that fact, we should all strive to live a life of righteousness…out of gratitude.