Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’” (Lk 17:7-10)
I can make no legitimate claim upon God's grace. I cannot cajole God into giving it--giving Himself--to me. From the above passage we may wonder whether God is ungrateful for our service or devotion; but this conjecture, I believe, is anthropomorphizing (projecting our human traits; in this case, our sense of entitlement onto) God. To pilfer a Pauline proposal: Neither God's gratefulness nor our worthiness really pertains; "what counts is a new creation" (Gal 6:15; cf. 2 Cor 5:17). As we focus our energies properly upon what we can do for God and others, the thought of reward diminishes.
Or so I am told.
Karl Marx boldly asserted that religion is "the opium of the people." For many people God is, as a friend of mine once described, "someone we use to get things to where they don't suck." Not the All-Encompassing Tri-Personal Communion of Life and Love, not even the mere Supreme Being--just the One Who is to be Courted and Placated for My Own Purposes.
Is that who God is, and what religion is for? Perhaps many of us would answer theoretically in the negative, but practically in the affirmative. One may wonder, "What about the many times Jesus exhorts us to ask for things, not to mention the many times He approved the faith of those who came to Him with requests? Aren't we supposed to come to Him with our needs?"
An earlier post noted that "the process of maturity consists in accepting the relevance of persons and situations outside of oneself, and responding to them with the physical and spiritual resources at hand." With respect to God, the process of maturity involves respect for His wisdom, power, and love for all persons of all places and times, which includes you, right here and right now as things actually are for you. It also involves the realization that I don't have "the big picture," and He who does have "the big picture," also has a greater interest in me than I myself do (believe it or not!).
Therefore, amid the present conditions in which I may consider myself lacking something I perceive as important and necessary, I will not worry, because "worry is a prayer for something I don't want."
Whether it is the gift we are to receive or the gift we are to give, gratitude precedes the gift--always, always, always.