I heard a story once, about a man from a country in Africa, who had grown up in extreme poverty. Later in his life he became a Christian and was also no longer living in extreme need. Whenever he would pray, he would begin by thanking God for all that he had, sometimes starting with the fact that he had shoes on his feet!
I have gone through some lean times in my life, both as a child and as an adult. However, there has never been a time that I was barefoot. For most of my life I have been reasonably sure of having three meals per day. In fact, if I were to pray like that young man, it would take me quite awhile to get through the long list of blessings that God has given me. Unfortunately, I don’t often pray this way. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for all I have, I just would like to be more thank-full.
Most of us in this country got to have Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and we are probably still feeling a little full today! The reason we set this time aside each year, is to reflect on all that we have and to give thanks. I know we hear a lot about keeping Christmas in our hearts all year long, but I think there is a lot of value in keeping thanks in our hearts and minds all year as well. What would it look like to be truly full of thanks? I am wondering if it might make me a little more kind, a little more generous, a little quicker to help those less fortunate than myself.
Focusing on thanks might also keep me from complaining, whining or worrying. If I recognize the fact that God has taken care of me my whole life, even when circumstances were difficult, I will be much more apt to trust Him today. That is a strange thing about God’s instructions about thankfulness in the Bible, He says to give thanks in all things, not just in our blessings or good times. But this goes back to how thanks helps us trust God. When we reflect on how He has brought us through trials in the past, it gives us the strength to rejoice in the midst of our present troubles and to thank Him that He will do it once again.
So even though Thanksgiving is now past, I would encourage you to stay as thank-full as possible this next year!
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:18