Gratitude Day 3 // Gratitude for All the Small Things

Image by Cailin Valente

Image by Cailin Valente

Sirach 39:12-35

If you’re looking through your Bible and wondering “Where the heck is Sirach?” chances are you have a Protestant Bible. Some Catholic Bibles refer to Sirach as “The Wisdom of Ben Sira” or “Ecclesiasticus.”

If you want to know why today’s passage isn’t in your Bible, click on this link after meditating on today’s study.

For those unfamiliar with the book of Sirach, the short version is that it’s part of what’s called the “Wisdom Literature” (Also includes Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) and was written by someone who loved tradition. The book of Sirach has a lot of guidelines and advice for life that can still apply to today.

Today’s passage looks at all of the things in this world and says that they were all created for a purpose. How often do we overlook the things we have everyday and take them for granted, as if they were always there? Some people don’t have a home to live in or fresh water to drink or food to eat on a daily basis. Even if you have what some people call the “bare necessities,” there are other things we take for granted, such as our health, the people in our lives, the fact that we have access to a world of information and the means of travelling wherever we wish.

We have a lot of blessings in our lives that we tend to overlook. Even the daily annoyances we endure have are opportunities for us to gain more of God’s grace. We may not know what the overall purpose for everything is right now, but I’m the kind of person who likes to believe that there’s always something to be learned every day and that everything happens for a greater good.

One saint that comes to mind when it comes to finding gratitude in ordinary things is St. Therese of Lisieux. Most people who don’t know her misjudge her to be “Little Miss Perfect,” a young girl of little importance and too much piety. Take any preconceptions you have about the Little Flower and put them aside.

St. Therese of Lisieux was a young girl who loved her family and eventually the nuns in the convent that she lived in. She lived by a philosophy called “The Little Way.” Part of the Little Way involves completely surrendering ourselves to God and His will for us.

St. Therese described her philosophy thusly:

“Jesus deigned me to show me the road that leads to this Divine Furnace and this road is the surrender of the little child who sleeps without fear in its Father’s arms.”

So what does The Little Way have to do with being grateful? St. Therese said, in a letter to her sister,

“Gratitude is the thing that brings us the most grace...I have learnt from this experience; try it, and you will see. I am content with whatever God gives me, and I show him this in a thousand little ways.”

One example of this from St. Therese’s life happened when she was just a thirteen year-old girl. Her family returned home from Midnight Mass and Therese was getting ready for bed, anticipating the gifts she would open on Christmas morning. However, she overheard her father telling her uncle, “Well, fortunately, this is the last year,” which meant that she and her sisters wouldn’t receive any more Christmas presents. Keep in mind that Therese is a 13-year-old girl who loved her father dearly. It’s basically the equivalent of a kid realizing that Santa Claus isn’t real. You can imagine the sadness in her heart. However, she didn’t make her disappointment known. Come Christmas morning, Therese threw herself into the day and enjoyed her Christmas with her family. She didn’t give into her sadness or throw a tantrum the way a typical teenage girl would. Instead, she surrendered herself to God’s will and embraced the gratitude of having one last Christmas with presents. It was a very small thing for her, but it done with great love for her family and for her Lord.

Today’s featured song is “Small Things With Great Love” by Danielle Rose. It was inspired by both St. Therese and Mother Teresa, who said

“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

I pray that you will find gratitude in all of the ordinary things.St. Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!

Study questions:

  1. Have you ever read the deuterocanonical books of the Bible before this study? If not, why do you think the seven books are left out of other Bibles? Do you think Bibles would benefit from having the seven books in them?

  2. What did you know about St. Therese of Lisieux before this study?

  3. What are some daily annoyances that would actually be blessings in disguise with a change of perspective?