Gratitude and Generosity
By Seneca Moraleda-Puguan
Early this morning, as I looked at my two little children enjoy the French toast that I prepared for them, I got very emotional that I felt like crying. My thoughts went out to the many parents around the world struggling to put food on their tables and roof on their heads. My heart bled for the many children who have nothing to eat. It was a very humbling moment. I felt sad but grateful at the same time that my husband and I are able to feed our children well.
We are already on the second half of 2020. Though many countries have started to go business as usual, the end of the COVID-19 crisis is still out of sight. While some countries are still riding the first wave of the pandemic, the others are already being beaten and battered by the second wave. My husband still continues to work but we have felt the devastation this pandemic has brought about, not just in the nation we are in right now but in all parts of the world. The two restaurants in our city that we frequently go to when we want to unwind have closed down. We see many empty shops. In our home country, many have lost jobs. Many have been forced to retire early. They are not just numbers; they are close family and friends. They are not just part of statistics, they have faces. This has been one of the toughest seasons that I believe everyone has faced. It’s heartbreaking. The pain is overwhelming.
If there’s one thing that this cruel pandemic has taught me, it’s that we cannot get our security from the things of this world – money, jobs, wealth and worldly success. These things are shaky ground. In an instant, they can disappear. Eventually, they will be gone. A friend once said, there’s no such thing as job security or a fail-proof future with money. The things we are holding on to in this world will disappoint and fail us. Because of this pandemic, I have learned the most important things in life. I started to let go of my tight grip on the material things that I value. I began to practice two spiritual disciplines that I have taken for granted: gratitude and generosity.
GRATITUDE. I have never been more thankful to God for being alive. I learned to appreciate the simplest of things. We usually respond with thankfulness when we receive blessings, when things are going our way, when our prayers are being answered. But what if we are confronted with unemployment, sickness or even death? What if everything we have is taken away? In one of the morning devotions I listen to, the pastor said that gratitude is not a response to our circumstances or to an answered prayer; it is an acknowledgment of God’s sufficient grace upon our lives. We can still be thankful even in the midst of suffering because we have a God who cares for us, and whose grace will see us through no matter what circumstances we face. We have a faithful God. This is more than enough reason to have an attitude of gratitude.
GENEROSITY. Our family has food on our table, roof on our heads and clothes on our bodies to protect us from the summer heat. We have all that we need. This is what I always tell my children, especially my preschooler. We have been tremendously blessed. We have been given much, not to live comfortable lives but so we can be a blessing to others. My heart is compelled now, more than ever, to find ways to meet someone else’s need, to be an answer to someone else’s prayer, to be a carrier of God’s miracle to another. The world is in dire need right now, and I know that in one way or another, I have the ability to meet a need. I have something to give – encouragement to someone who’s downhearted, hope to someone who is in the brink of giving up, food to someone who is hungry, and support for someone who is in lack. I have acquired countless things in the many years of my life; it’s time to give them away to the people around me who need them more. One of my favorite pastors said that generosity is more than just the (financial) ability to give; it’s the capacity of the heart to give. I have received much; I am able to give much.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the greatest storms that have battered (and still pounding) the whole world, and our lives. It is uprooting selfishness, greed, false sense of security, false hopes and materialism. On the other hand, it is cultivating gratitude and generosity in our hearts. The storm is far from over. For now, let’s continue to always be thankful for the grace that we receive each day and for God’s mercies that are new every morning; and let’s continue to keep finding ways to bless others just as we have been blessed. As we do this, we will soon see the colorful rainbow that will brighten the gloomy sky above us all.