In these strange times, according to Huffington Post, it can often feel like we’ve lost many things that bring us joy. Until recently, we couldn’t see friends and family in and beyond the Claydons’ villages, our outside passions and pastimes were banned, and we were restricted to when we can leave the house. So how can we be grateful – and is that still possible now following the relaxation of Covid-19 government rules?
The news article also cites that gratitude is powerful. Psychological tests have proven that gratitude was more powerful than any other virtue in boosting our health and wellbeing, says Kristján Kristjánsson, a professor of virtue ethics. “No one really knows why,” he says. “Some people think gratitude occupies some sort of a unique place as a ‘parent of all the virtues’.” Others say that “gratitude searches for the good things in life to train our brains to automatically notice and thus be positive”. As Christians, we beg to differ.
Gratitude boosts our health and well-being because of the light of Christ that shines in our hearts. We are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. The Apostle Paul knew that, historically, palaces did not use clay jars for their valuables (2nd Corinthians Chapter 4). Clay jars were found in the kitchen and outhouse, but not in the living room. Only jars made of gold, silver and other metals were used for special occasions.
God uses fragile clay jars, us, to reflect His Good News and works. Knowing that the power is His, not ours, keeps us grounded with gratitude whilst avoiding pride, and motivate us to maintain our faith daily. This gratitude permeates our character, emotions, behaviours and outlook of life which transforms our health and well-being. Sometimes, admittedly, the health issues may not go away but the transformation helps us to face them with peace and graceful acceptance just like a person who I provided a prayer after he received the news of having three months to live. Well-being, the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy, must come from who we are on the inside influencing us on the outside. Am I being influenced by what others think of me or what I genuinely know of myself? Put simply, it comes down to my daily public face to the outside world.
God places His most precious treasure in clay jars for others to see and experience the treasure of Christ through us. As clay jars, we are fragile human beings who handle difficulty so differently with gratitude that people are attracted to us – to hear our story, our journey, our motivations, what makes us different, our struggles and joys. In fact, stories of our health and well-being. There is no distinction between our private and public faces, we simply be. Our responsibility is to let people see God through us. The bible reading of 1st Thessalonians 5: 18 invites us to: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for (us) who belong to Christ Jesus”.
As fragile clay jars our value and self-esteem grow, as exemplified in the Japanese art of Kintsugi. Instead of concealing damages to broken jars by repairing them to appear new, Kintsugi restores them by incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored jar, making it part of its history. Kintsugi uses lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, resulting into a jar more beautiful and valuable than the original. How lovely!
I believe this is what gratitude does to us. It takes our past and recreates our story into something more valuable because of what we have in us as clay jars. We experience the Christian joy of gratitude on our health and well-being. My prayer today is that our villages experience the joy of gratitude in the Lord as we continue to make sense of Covid-19’s impact and respond to our nation’s future of opportunity.
Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray
Parish of the Claydons