Written by a Sister of the Church of Christ
in Piscataway, New Jersey
Most people can look back on their childhood and feel that they missed out on some helpful life lessons.
They may have learned in a painful or even embarrassing way, that: “It’s not all about you,” or “You can’t always get what you want,” or “You can’t please everyone.” If asked, people would probably say they have wished many times over that they had learned more of life’s lessons when they were young.
Although I feel inadequate at times, I know that there are many things that I learned as a child that I have carried into adulthood, and those lessons have stood me in good stead. That’s the benefit of learning something as a child; it can be used from then on and, most importantly, it can save adults a lot of pain and sorrow by preventing them from acting in embarrassing or harmful ways.
One of life’s lessons I learned and which has been helpful to me is, “Be grateful for what you have.” How sad it is that some, even Christians, are not able to see how blessed they really are. Do they have a family? friends? church family? home? car? job? As you can imagine, the list can go on and on.
Who is our supreme example of gratitude? Of course; it is Jesus. Though all things were made through Him (Jn. 1:3), He offered up thanksgiving to the Father on more than one occasion (Matt. 15:36; 26:26,27; Lk. 10:21; Jn. 11:41-44). He used a Samaritan leper to praise the grateful person and, by implication, condemn those who were not (Lk. 17:11-19). If He, though God in the flesh, felt the need to be grateful, why should it be any different for us?
Once a person realizes how much he has to be grateful for, how should he express that gratitude? It’s probably not that people don’t recognize what they have to be grateful for; they just either fail to be grateful or they don’t know how to express it.
When someone is kind or helpful to you, take the time to express your thankfulness. It doesn’t cost anything to say, “thank you.” A written note is even better. If the giver took a lot of time to shop, wrap, and give you a gift using their hard-earned money, is it such a burden to write a thank-you note? If they spent time cooking or baking something for you in your time of need, shouldn’t you at least take the time to express your feelings in a tangible way? It seems that society in general has forgotten the art of the thank-you note. Is it going the way of the dinosaur? It shouldn’t, if one is a Christian.
Though the author’s focus has been on physical blessings and our gratitude for them, the more important blessing for which we have to be thankful is salvation through Jesus Christ. How we live in this life is important, yes, but it is only important to the extent that it leads us to eternal life. Paul told his readers, “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:18). How could Paul truthfully say this? Everything? Was he thankful for the beatings, stoning, imprisonments, hunger, thirst, cold, shipwrecks, and other dangers he suffered after becoming a Christian? Yes, he could be thankful for all the evil that befell him because he had something that compensated him for all those things – salvation (Rom. 8:31-39).
What about you? Are you thankful for the good things that have come from God? How about the burdens? If not, start today with acknowledging how blessed you have been with good things.
Thank those who have blessed you. Understand that burdens can also be a blessing if they lead you to a better appreciation for what you can have as a child of God - salvation that leads to eternal life.