We just came off a favorite holiday for many, including myself. It always is a good reminder at this time of year to remember our blessings and to be thankful. However, we are called by the Bible to be thankful at all times of the year and in every situation.
This is a tall order for many who have or are experiencing times of great hardship and suffering. Our children often are better at this than we are—the temper tantrum after feeling so wronged that can resolve into happily playing a few minutes later.
You might say, “…but children don’t understand real suffering.” In many cases, we pray this is the case. However, the kids at the Children of Hope homes in Kenya, for whom I first started writing the blessings in my book, have experienced traumatic suffering.
These children are found abandoned, sick, malnourished and unprotected. They come into the homes afraid, and insecure about what’s coming next and what or whom they can trust. Within an amazingly short period of time, these children learn they can trust their caregivers, are so thankful for their new home and become some of the happiest children possible. Children are resilient and good at living in the present, rather than dwelling on the past or fearful about the future. What a wonderful lesson for us as adults.
Our world now can cause us all to be afraid, insecure about what’s coming next and cause us to question what or whom we can trust. Ephesians 5:20 says, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
How and why should we do this?
God made us and therefore knows what is best for us. Thanks and gratitude are good for the heart and soul. God knows the big picture, things about which we can only poorly speculate at best. God can bring redemption to anything if we give it to Him. I have experienced this firsthand. Please try it out!
Ann Voskamp in her book, One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, suggests keeping a journal of daily gifts. I have done this exercise and it is a wonderful way to look for at least one gift for which you can be thankful each day. It wasn’t difficult, because even seeing the sun shine can be a gift and a reason to give thanks.
I believe the “thankful mindset” in the midst of our problems can help lessen the burdens we feel and draw us closer to God, the Giver of so many gifts. Give yourself the gift of feeling thankful as we draw close to Christmas. We can be so very thankful for the gift of our Lord coming to dwell among us to bring us salvation. That’s a gift!
What circumstances have made it difficult for you to give thanks and find gifts?