I was thinking today about how to be thankful. Do you know how? I have thought about it over the years. What does it mean to be thankful? How do you develop a thankful heart?
It tends to start when you are a young child and your mom teaches you to say, “Thank you.” when someone gives you something…anything. Especially a treat. Once you get in that habit, it becomes automatic and often meaningless. As you get older, you move to thank you notes. They give you the opportunity to express your thanks for actions or gifts to another person in more specific ways. For some, they mean a lot when they send a thank you note. For others, it is simply a formality to finish and be done with.
So we can see that it is easy to do thankful actions without having a particularly thankful heart.
I have known some people who are extremely thankful. I have wondered what makes some people more thankful than others. It seems to emanate from deep inside them. Of course, Christians have the Holy spirit working in us, changing our hearts to make us more thankful…among other things. How will we know what that looks like?
When we are looking at our lives, we always need to take time out to be thankful. But what are we thankful for?
- That GOD is who He says He is.
- That He is present with us.
- That He is the Creator.
- That He is Almighty.
- That is He Sovereign over all the events of our lives.
- That He provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him and thus, to live in relationship with Him.
- to name a few.
During hard times, I found myself falling into this pitfall: I found myself thankful that I wasn’t suffering what I considered a worse malady. For example, when I had a miscarriage, I was thankful I hadn’t had a stillbirth. I did okay until a little over a year later, I had a stillborn child. Then what do I do? Somehow, my thanks needed to be rooted deeper than being thankful my sadness wasn’t worse. It needed to be rooted in Christ and His goodness and His presence with me. I eventually came to that, but it took awhile. GOD got through to me.I found myself thankful that I wasn't suffering what I considered a worse malady. My thanks needed to be rooted deeper than being thankful my sadness wasn't worse. It needed to be rooted in Christ and His goodness and His presence with me. Click To Tweet
During our time in Jamaica, I learned to see life through different eyes. When I started to see life through the eyes of people who didn’t have much, it was easier to be thankful for simple gifts GOD gave. Living in a world of entitlement and overindulgence left me with expectations that left little room for thanksgiving. Most often, I only saw what I didn’t have. I didn’t have room to be thankful for the gifts GOD had given me. Being thankful for my daily bread, a home where I was safe, a job that provided the daily needs we had…all these were gifts GOD had given us for which we could be thankful.
Along those lines, years later, I had some illnesses that gave me cause to be thankful for the ability to think…when that ability was returned. It was something I took for granted. I never thanked GOD for something so apparently mundane! But that was a special gift not to be taken for granted.
Even the people GOD places in our lives for a time are a gift. We want them to be there forever, but that doesn’t happen. I want them to be around me. I want my children to be close as well as my best friends. But GOD has decided that is not best for me right now. That’s for heaven. So I can be genuinely thankful for the friends he places in my life now. I can be thankful for the times when our family is able to get together. Then, when heaven comes, it will be a delight!Even the people GOD places in our lives for a time are a gift. I want my children to be close as well as my best friends. But GOD has decided that is not best for me right now. That's for heaven. Click To Tweet
So the challenge to me and you now, is to learn to be thankful for the little things…genuinely thankful and appreciative. These are gifts from GOD. He owes us nothing. Whatever He gives us is icing on the cake. He has already given us so much! We just need to stop and look at all the gifts He has given us.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,
singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed,
do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17 ESV
Call to Action: Make some time before the rush of the Christmas season, to stop and spend some time thinking about what you have to be thankful for…over the past month, 6 months, year…and in general. GOD has been so good to all of us who are His children.