I was talking to a new friend the other day and the matter of thankfulness came up. It was a thought-provoking conversation. And certainly an appropriate one in view of Thanksgiving tomorrow. I hope you’ll find my thoughts from that conversation helpful as you celebrate Thanksgiving.
The gist of the conversation was that our hearts not only can but will become hardened when we cease to be thankful. And true thankfulness does not come about if we see all that we’re blessed with as the fruit of our labor (our “investment” in relationships, activities or work). In that case, what we “receive” is what we are due.
True thankfulness comes when we recognize that that which we have received is a gift, it is not what we are “due,” and it is not anything we had a right to “claim.”
So, on this eve of Thanksgiving, what am I thankful for?
Well, upon reflection, the real answer should be everything. And why? Because the bottom line reality is that everything is a gift, nothing is due me, and I have no claim of “right” to anything because the very breath that allows me to receive anything good is itself a gift. A gift from God.
After all, which of us can ensure our next breath? None of us. This is a reality that Job, in part through his affliction, learned: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”
So, if I take that thought seriously, for me Thanksgiving means that I am thankful for:
- each day as it gives me opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which God put me here on earth (Colossians 4:17; I Peter 4:10),
- each challenge for, if I will be open to it, challenges provide an opportunity to become more like Jesus who through what he suffered learned obedience (Hebrews 5:8),
- the harsh words often hurled at me by those who don’t like my politics because they either make me think hard about whether what I did was right, leading to needed correction, or remind me that those against whom evil is spoken falsely for Christ’s sake have a future reward not worthy to be compared to the reward of man’s praise on earth (Proverbs 15:32; Matthew 5:11,12),
- the opportunity to do what I do, to wake up every morning and enjoy what I do (Ecclesiastes 5:18),
- great people to work with every day who care as much about what we’re doing as I do and for the same reason (I Thessalonians 3:2),
- the many people who support me and what I do through words of encouragement, prayers of intercession, and financial support (II Corinthians 8:1-5)
- friends of all kinds and in so many places who in so many ways bless and enrich my life and who stick with me in all the ups and downs (Proverbs 17:17)
- the material goods that keep me fed, clothed, and sheltered (I Timothy 6:8)
- Moose, the little dog, who every time I come down in the morning or come home at night, wags his tail at me,
- parents who pointed me to God, provided for more than my needs, encouraged me in every endeavor, and loved me (Proverbs 22:6, Psalm 16:6),
- a daughter who has brought so much fun and laughter into our home, but whose life God has used to teach me more about myself that I needed to learn than perhaps anyone else on this earth (Psalm 127:3)
- a beautiful wife who in so many ways exudes Jesus to me, particularly in the way she loves me, deeply and unconditionally and forever (Proverbs 18:22) and
- a Savior, Jesus, who assures me of a righteousness that is not of my own, but a gift – the ultimate gift – through which I will meet with joy and a thankful heart the Heavenly Father from whom all these blessings flow (Philippians 3:9; James 1:17).
I am a blessed man whose heart could not be anything other than thankful.