Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials.
This piece includes his short film on Gratitude and Happiness. Brother David Steindl’s spoken words, Gary Malkin’s musical compositions and Louie’s cinematography make this a stunningly beautiful piece, reminding us of the precious gift of life, and the beauty all around us.
Gratitude springs from acceptance of the gifts and the conditions and the circumstances that God gives. Are you grateful for the place that you live? Are you grateful for the job that God has given you to do? How many of you have thought today of thanking God for the work that He has given you to do?
What makes a holy woman or a holy man. One characteristic is gratitude. I think we might divide up all the people in the world into two classes-the complainers and the thankful. Which are you? There’s a difference between a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and a peaceful and a happy one. I think that it does not depend nearly so much on what happens as it depends on your attitude and your response.
If you dwell on your own feelings about things, rather than dwelling on the faithfulness, the love and the mercy of God, then you’re likely to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Our feelings are very fluctuating and ephemeral, aren’t they? We can’t depend on them for five minutes at a time. But dwelling on the faithfulness and the love and the mercy of God is always safe, because He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Now I’m one who is having to learn this lesson of gratitude. Not that I don’t have thousands of things to be grateful for, but I also happen to be born with an extremely critical mind. It’s very easy for me to pick on the one thing that’s wrong rather than to concentrate on the ten things that were right. That goes for a lot of different areas of my life.
I realize that I don’t spend nearly enough time praising God. I try to begin my quiet time with acts of praise. Very often, it’s helpful to use somebody else’s words to do that. I think hymns are a wonderful help, so let me just make that tiny suggestion that you begin your day with thanking the Lord. There are a lot of things you can think of yourself. The very fact that you’ve had a good sleep in a comfortable bed and that you’re able to get out of bed and the measure of health that you have and the work that you have to do-all of those things you can thank God for.
But it’s great to use the exalted words, perhaps, of the Psalms. Psalm 138 would be a good one to start with. “I will praise Thee, O Lord, with all my heart. Boldly, O God, will I sing psalms to Thee. I will bow down towards Thy holy temple. For Thy love and faithfulness, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast made Thy promise wide as the heavens.” Psalm 138. Try that one. It would be a good idea to memorize it, an act of praise to God.
There’s always plenty to complain about, I guess, if your life is controlled by your feelings. But there’s always much more to thank God for if our lives are controlled by our dwelling on His faithfulness, His love and His mercy.
I had a very encouraging letter from a lady who had listened when I interviewed my friend Gail Sommers. She says, “Gail Sommers spoke the truth as few Christian women have the boldness to do. The wonderful fact is that Gateway To Joy was equally daring to air it. I grow so weary of middle-of-the-road stances on this issue.” Gail had been talking about working mothers, and Gail herself is a part-time working mother.
This lady who writes says, “I am 47 years old, a mother who gave up a professional career to stay home.” She goes on to say that she doesn’t find the care of children easy, as Gail Sommers herself admitted. It’s a tough job. But she says, “Nonetheless, having the opportunity to be a homemaker and mother gave me true fulfillment. As I was reminded of this during the week’s broadcasts, I was able to go to my husband and thank him for having given me that opportunity and blessing.”
Let me say here that those of you who are able to stay home to take care of your children because your husband is willing to let you stay home and doesn’t insist upon your getting a job to supplement the family income, have you thought of thanking him? This was a good reminder in this letter. This lady went to her husband and thanked him.
She goes on to say, “There is no explaining the contentment I felt as I mothered. Though I knew we had to do without some material things and though I knew there was always the awareness in my husband’s mind that some things we could not afford, I had not ever specifically thanked him for enduring the pressures as provider and for keeping the value of his wife being at home.”
To you men who endure the pressures as provider, may I say thank you, especially those of you who are willing to make sacrifices in order to allow your wives to stay at home. And of course, the wife has to be willing to make the sacrifices of not having the material things that would be possible with a double income.
I go on with the letter. “As I shared with him my gratitude for the intangibles of fulfillment as a woman and contentment as a wife, I could see that he was blessed. He was happy with our family style, but yes, he did regret that he couldn’t provide for all the things we needed. Telling him as I did, and anchoring it in the thinking I did as I listened to your programs, gave him a broader view of the true provisions he had made for us. Your program blessed me and my husband.” I do thank you.
She goes on to say that she had home schooled for six years. She was glad about my open-mindedness on that subject. She says, “For all your labors to produce this program, know that this woman is deeply appreciative.”
In Romans 5:3-5 we read, “Let us be full of joy now. Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance; and endurance, fortitude, develops maturity of character; that is, approved faith and tried integrity. And character of this sort produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Thank God even in the midst of your troubles. Remember who it is who writes this way. It’s Paul the Apostle, who had been through a good many trials and tribulations that most of us know nothing about. Things like floggings and shipwrecks and imprisonments. But he says, “We can be full of joy here and now. We can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.”
Some of you are experiencing difficult pressures today. Hardships. Can you be grateful for those? Not because of the hardship in itself, but because God’s promises that they can produce patient and unswerving endurance. But they’re not going to produce that patience and endurance unless you accept them. So gratitude springs from acceptance of the gifts and the conditions and the circumstances that God gives.
Are you grateful for the place that you live? Are you grateful for the job that God has given you to do? How many of you have thought today of thanking God for the work that He has given you to do? Maybe you’re ambitious for another job, a different kind of a job, or a promotion. Maybe you’re ambitious to get a job and you haven’t gotten one yet. Can you accept the fact that today this is the will of God? Wherever you are, whatever you have or don’t have, this is the will of God for you today.
How do I know that? I don’t know you. I don’t know your circumstances. But I do know what the Word says. “Everything that happens fits into a pattern for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” His purpose in you and me is to make us holy, to shape us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this particular set of circumstances in which you live, the particular events of today, that give you the opportunity to say, “Thank You, Lord. I know that You’re at work in this and I know that Your purpose for me is thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give me a future and a hope.”