"Give thanks in all circumstances," said Paul. This would certainly include the circumstances in which Abba Arsenius found himself. He was poor and sick. But receiving just a small gift was enough to provoke thanksgiving. When we suffer (whether from sickness or circumstances), it is hard to be thankful. But it is also difficult to be grateful when we are well.
Christian faith teaches that life is a gift and that God is a gracious giver. The story of Arsenius challenges us that even when life seems only to take from us, God will still provide. Gratitude, however, is an attitude. It is a perspective that must be cultivated. Thanksgiving is a habit that must be practiced. To be thankful, even in difficult times, requires discipline.
Gratitude can be formed in prayer. Each day, think through your day and give thanks for all that was good. Think even of the trying parts of the day and consider how those experiences are opportunities for learning. Be grateful for those too. Thank God for every person you encountered acknowledging how they are a gift to you.
Be sure to thank others. Do it in person, through personal notes, texts, phone call or e-mail. People are rarely acknowledged and often uncelebrated. Thanking others can restore self-worth and remind them of their gifts. Go out of your way to offer thanksgiving. Joy springs from gratitude. The more thankful you are, the more joy you will find in life. And, the thing is, joy provokes more thanksgiving.