By Carey Kinsolving
On Thanksgiving Day, families all over America sit down to dinner at the same time — halftime.
“Thanksgiving has two good words,” says Hollie, age 9. “They are ‘thanks’ and ‘giving,’ and that’s what we need to do — thank others and be giving. Those are two things my mom taught me.”
Hollie, your mom has taught you well. Gratitude is one of the most important lessons parents can teach their children.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life,” writes Melody Beattie. “It turns what we have into enough, and more. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Adrienne, 9, is fortunate to have a father who’s not ashamed to offer thanks to God: “I like when my dad prays before we eat. I don’t know why, but I just do.”
Tori, 6, is already following the example of godly parents: “I like Thanksgiving because I get to eat chicken, and my mama is with me, and my daddy is with me. I get to see my cousins. I get to be with God because I say the blessings.”
Tori, you might have the wrong bird, but you’ve definitely got the right spirit and company.
You have a kindred spirit in Ally, 11: “I like Thanksgiving because it is good to thank God. He gives us so many blessings that we don’t even realize. It’s the least we can do to give him one whole day of thanks, but we should be giving thanks daily.”
Robert, 8, goes even further: “I can give thanks when I broke my finger and that it didn’t get cut off. I can give thanks when my dad got shot four times and that he didn’t die.”
Wait a minute! How could anybody find a bright side to a broken finger or gunshot wounds?
This kind of worldview sees all circumstances as divine tapestry. Faith in God’s sovereignty and goodness transports the believer into a realm where giving thanks in everything is as normal as breathing. This doesn’t mean that everything we encounter is good, but rather that God’s goodness and power will work it out for his purpose and our benefit.
Why, then, do we complain instead of giving thanks?
“Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow,” wrote 19th century minister Henry Ward Beecher. “A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”
Kimberly, 8, is an example of someone who is grateful even in the midst of great loss: “My grandmother died of a heart attack, and it was hard to thank the Lord for that. I was very close to my grandmother. I saw her almost every day. But now, she doesn’t have any more pain, and she is in heaven.”
Think about this: Even though we sorrow over the loss of loved ones, not even death can make spiritual Christians ungrateful. The Lord Jesus absorbed death’s sting when he offered himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Faith alone in Christ alone guarantees everlasting life.
Memorize this truth: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).
Ask this question: Can you give thanks for everything?