II Thess. 5:18 – No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
Most children are trained to say “thank you” from an early age. Sadly, it becomes automatic and often does not reflect the true state of affairs in a child’s heart. We might ask, “How can we move from a speech reflex to a mindset that reflects our inner health?” Here are some suggestions.
TEACH the truth. For instance, you might take the verse above and divide it into four phrases. Assign each phrase to a family member and ask them to explain to the rest of the family what this means. Suggest using a variety of ways to do this. Illustrating a truth (…a story, a song, or a drawing) is often a good way to “teach” what it means.
HANDLE your kids with the encouragement that comes from your being thankful for them. Make sure they know by your attitude, your words, the way you discipline them that they are precious. Find ways to demonstrate that you thank God for giving them to you and express gratitude to them for their part in your life.
ASK thoughtful questions. Instead of, “How was your day?”, or “What did you learn in…?” try “What are you most thankful for right now?” Most family written lists record chores, responsibilities, goals, even, people. How about creating a chart that lists in words and sketches what you’re thankful for?
NURTURE an attitude of gratitude. Don’t miss opportunities to share how you handle disappointment …the “no matter what happens” in your life. Even in the most trying circumstances, focus on the sovereign love of God. Isn’t it awesome that He can take even the worst circumstance we encounter and turn it for good?
KIDS can lead the way. Let them supply ideas on how your family can make sure that thanksliving is one of its hallmarks. You may even hear one of them pray something like, “Lord, thank you for my brother, Joe. You gave him to us, so you must mean this to bless me. Sometimes I don’t appreciate it, but I am grateful.” What parent’s heart wouldn’t beat with gratitude to hear a prayer like that?
SEE the connection between thanksgiving and praise. Remember we “thank” God for what He does for us; we “praise” God for Who He is. Have we learned to praise Him when things are bleak and there doesn’t seem to be much in the “thanks” column? Perhaps God blesses us most by letting us learn this with our kids.
Please remember, this verse in II Thessalonians carries the weight of a command. Also, it’s an easy one to memorize to help you and your children honor God with your “thanksliving.” You may be sure this will not go unnoticed by Him.
We thank You Lord for Jesus Christ, and for the blood He shed.
We thank You for His risen life and for our daily bread.
Next entry we’ll focus on concrete ideas to make thanksliving happen. Why not send us one of yours to include?