Thankfulness is an interesting quality. As Americans we view ourselves as a thankful people. Once a year we set aside a day to express our thankfulness to God for our blessings. Ironically we indulge (gorge might be a better word) ourselves more on that day than on any other day of the year. We might better express our thankfulness by fasting on Thanksgiving rather than feasting.
While we imagine ourselves to be thankful, it’s difficult to truly be thankful until something has been taken away from you. When something that has been part of your life has been removed so that you can no longer enjoy it, you begin to get an idea of what it means to be thankful.
Most of my readers know that I just returned from an eighteen day missions trip to Haiti. On the return flight I was seated next to Pam, a woman who had just experienced Haiti for the first time. Her shock at what she saw in Haiti was typical for the average American. The vast majority of us have never witnessed the abject poverty, the unsanitary conditions, the lack of the most basic medical care, the absence of running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity that is typical of much of Haiti. We take these not only for granted but as our birthright as Americans. Yet the majority of people in the world lack most, if not all of these. We are blessed. I had an interesting conversation with Pam as she worked through some of her amazement and emotions.
That’s where thankfulness comes in. I can guarantee you that today Pam, like many others who have visited Haiti, are more thankful than she has been in a long time. She now has a framework in which she can objectively view her blessings.
God has a lot to say about being thankful in the Bible, especially in the book of Psalms. Here are just a few of the many verses in Psalms that challenge us to be thankful.
Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows (IE thankfulness) to the Most High (Ps 50:14).
It is a good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High (Ps 92:1).
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (Ps 106:1).
This theme carries over into the New Testament as well.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6).
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God (1 Thess 5:18).
Thankfulness to God for the blessings of life is not to be the exception but the dominating characteristic of the Christian life. It should define us.
After eighteen days of cold showers I was reminded again today to be thankful as I stepped into a hot shower. The ability to turn a faucet handle and have instantaneous hot water always reminds me to be thankful. It doesn’t take much once you do without.
What would it take for you to be thankful?
Stay in the Word