Monday, July 04, 2011

Gratitude

I cracked a joke on a post I wrote yesterday about how I sometimes imagine God looking down at what I am doing and saying, "Oh thank MYSELF that Tammy is on the job." That brought up an interesting question...

Does God feel gratitude?

We like making God in our own image, meaning we like to assign to God an entire gamut of human emotion. What exactly IS gratitude and does God experience it?

Enter dictionary.com, which gives the definition for gratitude as follows: "A feeling of thankfulness or appreciation, as for gifts or favors."

Now why would I even question whether God feels gratitude? On some level, it seems to imply "surprise," a certain "not knowing." You feel gratitude when someone does something unexpected for you, for example, but nothing is unexpected to God, is it?

As I was typing that last sentence, I thought about one of the stories of creation recorded in the book of Genesis. It says after each day of creation, God said to God's self that what God had created was good. Is that gratitude ... or appreciation?

We feel grateful for the gifts and abilities we have ... sometimes even for our inabilities and weaknesses, when we recognize the growth that comes from them. If all that we have is a gift from God, would God feel grateful for a gift or ability or quality and strength that God had given us? Again, I'm not saying God does not appreciate creation, but is that the same as gratitude.

OK, dictionary.com defines appreciation as follows: "The act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value." Obviously, God sees the quality of each of us and gives us value, more value than we would ever give to ourselves, or expect to receive from others. But is that gratitude?

A month or so ago, my husband and I read The Shack by William P. Young (we're a bit behind the times). The character in the book who represents God the Father consistently says the phrase "I'm especially fond of him/her" when referring to different people. (The interesting thing is that God the Father says this about every person in the book when talking about them.)

Is being especially fond of someone the same as gratitude? I mean, I can imagine God looking at his creation and smiling and nodding and saying, "Yep, still good ... I'm especially fond of that one" but "Thank MYSELF for her..." seems to imply a certain dependence, which I don't believe God has on any of us.

Does it make God seem mean or cranky or any less unloving to suggest that God does not experience gratitude? God loves us, God appreciates us, God is especially fond of each of us ... but grateful?

I think I have committed a lot of words without really coming to any formal conclusions. Perhaps I can say again that I will not be so presumptuous as to believe that God is grateful to the point of dependence on me.

"Thank MYSELF you're done writing this post!"

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