This morning in church, our pastor, of course, preached on thankfulness. I so appreciated his reminder: “It’s called Thanksgiving Day and not Thankful Day!” We are not choosing to celebrate a day when we are thankful but a day in which we give thanks for all the Lord has given us to be thankful about.
Too often we wait for a feeling to come over us in order to feel able to give thanks. This morning was not one of those mornings. My husband and I had yelled at one of the kids, we were late for church and I was fretting that my brother had once again been admitted to the hospital with serious health concerns as well as over the health concerns of a friend. I wasn’t feeling thankful.
How humbling it was to be reminded: give thanks anyways! As we had the opportunity to share in our church family the reasons that we had to give our thanks I realized that there were so many reasons to take this day and thank the Lord. I am thankful for my children, my “job”, for kids at Awana who have no trouble in listing things that they are thankful for, for my health, for the support of many friends in trying times.
But if giving thanks isn’t meant for a specific situation or circumstance then the things that I have to be thankful for are not also limited to the circumstantial. I am thankful for the love of God, for Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, for God’s divine written word, that he continues to pour out his blessings on me even when I respond so poorly, that he loves me even more than I love myself.
I am reminded that thankfulness is never a product of our circumstances: even those with the most ideal situations (beautiful homes, functional family relationships, jobs that are fulfilling and well paid) often feel a sense of deep dissatisfaction. On the other hand, we can all remember fondly people in desperate circumstances that were able to sing of the goodness of God and how blessed they felt.
This brings to mind the example of a common problem in the Dean home. Perhaps you have seen it before? A troupe of otherwise happy children is confronted with the opportunity for something new, something more, something exciting. When that opportunity disappears, instead of going back to the previous happy, go-lucky state that they had been in before the item of their affection appeared they become a sad and irritable bunch. This happened recently at the dentist: four young girls had seen the dentist, had their teeth cleaned and checked and had been given a clean bill of health. All were smiling. Then the dentist brought out her treat basket of “ten for a dollar” party favours and, before the Dean family walked out the door, three of four girls treats had broken and they were in tears. Another round of party favours brightened the day but really, those four girls would have left just as blessed and well cared for if they had never seen the party favours and they would have been happy.
Think that this is a childish problem? Well, try this exercise: stop reading the fliers in the local paper. It is amazing how quickly we develop a long list of needs and wants that we didn’t know existed until we see the local store fliers. Along with other strategic changes, we stopped reading fliers several years ago and our level of contentedness increased in a disproportionate amount to our circumstances!
As our pastor said this morning, “If you say, ‘___ is a barrier between me and thankfulness,’ then you give it too much power in your life. If we realize this then we can engage in the giving of thanks not because of where we are in life but because of who God is.”
Wishing you moments to give thanks despite the circumstances of the day,
P.S. – Here’s a cute little poem I’ll also paraphrase from this morning’s sermon. (Sorry, I don’t know the title or author.)
To live above with the Saints I love,
Now that will be the glory,
But to live below with the Saints I know,
Now that’s a different story!