by Nancy Tichy, Author for KidZ at Heart International
A simple meal of delicious, Mexican take-out served on plastic plates. It was an ordinary kind of dinner-time with lots of happiness served along with the food. As the two young girls left the table, they each stopped and said a simple ‘thank you’ to their parents. No prompting from adults, their words were sincere and spontaneous. It warmed this grandma’s heart because I’ve just about given up hope of receiving a word of thanks these days for any kindness I might give another, even though my kindnesses are pretty small in value, if you’re only judging them by the amount of money they represent.
Almost gone are the days when a wedding gift, or even, in some cases, a contribution to a friend’s ministry, is recognized with a word of thanks, a specific acknowledgement beyond a form letter. Of course, there are exceptions. And getting a thank-you is not the chief motivation for my generosity.
As I thought about this the Lord prompted me to evaluate my own diligence to express gratitude to my financial partners, or my family and friends when they send gifts of various kinds. It has prompted me to ask, “Where has my contentment gone these days? And, can I bring it back, if indeed it has gone missing, to bless others in my life?”
For example a widow my age, in most of our world today, would consider my lifestyle a luxury. Not without challenges, still I am indeed well off. All my basic needs are met. I have over a thousand square feet of living space, all to myself – that in itself is unheard of in many parts of the world.
And yet, I sometimes feel like I never have enough. Why the spells of discontent that challenge my desire to maintain a joyful spirit? And what about the kids? Doesn’t it seem like their appetites are insatiable – and I’m not thinking about food so much as ‘stuff.’ Could this malady be a side effect that comes with affluence, smothering our attitude of gratitude?
Paul wrote that he had ‘learned’ to be content. He was sharing with the Christians at Philippi that contentment didn’t come naturally. It was a product of lessons learned primarily from experiences. For example, in my case, when I decided to learn to play the piano, I started with practice – lots of practice.
So, my challenge is this. Let’s determine this thanksgiving season to learn contentment by practicing gratitude.
To start with…”giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light. For God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (from Col. 1:11-14)
Enabled and rescued, redeemed and forgiven! What a good place to begin our gratitude lessons, right? Let’s carry on! Amen.