"When my child would serve me," he went on," he spies out some need I have, springs from his seat at my knee, finds that which will meet my necessity, and is my eager, happy servant, of consequence in his own eyes inasmuch as he has done something for his father. His seat by my knee is love, delight, well-being, peace--not service, however pleasing in my eyes.--'Why do you seat yourself at my knee, my son?' 'To please you, father.' 'Nay then, my son! go from me, and come again when it shall be to please thyself.'--'Why do you cling to my chair, my daughter? 'Because I want to be near you, father. It makes me so happy!' 'Come nearer still--come to my bosom, my child, and be yet happier.'--Talk not of public worship as divine service; it is a mockery. Search the prophets and you will find the observances, fasts and sacrifices and solemn feasts, of the temple by them regarded with loathing and scorn, just because by the people they were regarded as DIVINE SERVICE." (Taken from Thomas Wingfold, Curate by George MacDonald).
We have much to be grateful for, yet we are often blinded by the awful things we see in the world. It's not easy to be honest about the evil in this world--and where possible to do something about it--while at the same time "giving thanks in all circumstances." (Which is very different to giving thanks for all things. We can be thankful in all circumstances, but we must never give thanks for the evil that befalls others. See here.)
If we do not learn to be grateful to the Father of all creation, we will either live in a world of denial consumed with the pursuit of self-gratification (consequently being of little help to those who are suffering injustice) or we will slowly become cynical and more and more bitter.
The more we are grateful to God, the more we love God, and the more we will love others.
The apostle John wrote to the early Christians saying that we love because God first loved us.
"We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister" (1 John 4:19-21).
We must learn to love and we must learn to forgive. Unfortunately, when I forget how much I have been forgiven, I am like the ungrateful servant in this parable which Jesus told.
...the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were outraged and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I cancelled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” (From the Gospel according to Matthew)
Why did he treat his fellow servant so harshly? Because he forgot how much he had been forgiven. The more we know we are forgiven, the easier we will find it to forgive.
But as wonderful as that is, forgiveness is not the greatest thing we can have; it is but a stepping stone to something much greater. God wants to give us the greatest gift he can possibly give, himself. He does not want our service, he wants us to trust him and enjoy him. He wants to fill this world with joy. But before that can happen he must rid the world of a sickness which is destroying us.