What Comes After Gratefulness?

At certain times of the year, many of us focus on the idea of gratitude—we list the things we’re thankful for, we share pictures, we count our blessings. However, I believe gratitude is also a breathtaking invitation.

Could it be that gratitude is much more than the acknowledgement of our felt happiness or blessedness? Indeed, it is much more expansive than that! What, truly, does gratitude invite us into?

I believe there is power in living with gratitude when you are able to see it as a calling to activate God’s goodness through you.


Biblical scholars tell us that the narrative of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand in John 6 is most relevant because those watching the miracle unfold before them (and now those of us who read of it) are given a sign and symbol of Christ as the true Bread and Food of the world. Jesus himself goes on to elaborate upon this truth in the subsequent part of the chapter.

But embedded in this broader context is a very straightforward directive for those who are witness to the miracle and for those who receive its gift. What Jesus did in verse 11 provides us with gratitude’s response:

Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat.

Jesus recognized what God gave, thanked him for it, then set out to share it.

Do you have a desire to share the great gift that you have been given?

Stop for a moment and begin to imagine the impact that our collective gratitude expressed in acts of goodness could have in a world that so desperately needs something better to eat (to continue the theme of Jesus’ miracle). Just as the fish and bread multiplied to feed those on the hillside, so too can goodness multiply and reverberate, expressing the good news of the gospel.

Our grateful response for what Christ has done for us can impact the world! We all know change is needed. We know it must happen. We resonate with the longing for it and wait for change, yearning for it. But could gratitude be a holy invitation to begin to share the goodness we have received, just as Jesus shared the bread and fish on the side of that hill?

The remarkable thing about expressing goodness is that it doesn’t matter how old you are, how young you are, what your occupation is, or even what resources you have. Anyone who has experienced gratefulness can accept the invitation to “pay it forward.”

We can each be part of bringing God’s Kingdom to bear. Jesus is the bread of life and our gratitude at the knowledge of that immense gift can be expressed through sharing his goodness in a dark world that so desperately needs our light.

~ Melissa Timberlake

Melissa Timberlake is an author, speaker and professional life coach with an unwavering passion for excellence. Her life purpose is to connect with and inspire others through creative communication, events and experiences.