As I have been cleaning and organizing our basement sometimes I am struck by the sheer number of toys we have acquired over the years. Every Christmas and birthday, there is a coveted toy that our child wants. By the following year, the toy goes unused and our children have moved onto something else they want. This same scenario plays out in adulthood. That house that was once a “dream home”, or the car that was so shiny driving off the lot, is replaced by the desire for something newer, different or bigger. Will we ever be thankful for what we have right now without always longing for something more? As Thanksgiving approaches, what does it look like to be truly grateful?
Two things that may help us learn gratefulness, despite our outward pain and struggles or dissatisfaction. One, count every little thing, no matter how small or trivial. One particularly difficult year, before kids we were up to our necks in college debt (literally ate Ramen noodles every night), we began a list of things we were thankful for and taped it to our fridge. Even the most trivial things went onto the list. Cultivate an attitude of thanks in your heart by counting every gift, no matter how small, and you will soon find your list is longer than you thought.
Second, lift your eyes upward. I love the words of this hymn, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”
When everything in front of us, or around us, seems to leave us longing for more - remember that nothing on this earth was ever meant to fully satisfy the longings of our heart. The Glory of God and the gift of salvation are cause for rejoicing and thankfulness. No matter our circumstances, those things remain unchanged, constant, and eternal.
“We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:8
What does it mean to be thankful for the Christian? It means going beyond the objects and things around us, and into the things of the heart. Thankfulness for relationships, and family, and health, and the gift of freedom to worship, and attend a church on Sunday, and for the ultimate gift of salvation and Christ’s work on the cross. As we approach a season of Thanksgiving, instead of focusing on the things of earth, think about the big picture gifts that God has given you, and the grace that is freely offered. Not that good gifts on earth aren’t wroth being grateful for, but they pale in comparison to the light of His glory and grace.