No Thanks

GIFT-THANKSAn essential part of being truly human is thankfulness.

A human being fully alive is a person bursting with praise and overflowing with thanksgiving. It’s the kind of thing you see everywhere in the book of Revelation, and it’s God’s invitation to join the celebration of praise and thanksgiving that’s already underway in heaven.

Real living is giving thanks always, for everything, in all circumstances.

But I don’t always give thanks.

Some time ago I detected a conspicuous absence of thanksgiving in my heart.  There was nothing there. I checked. God gave me His flashlight and we both looked down deep inside the internal well of my heart, and it was dry. I was thankless right from the very bottom of my heart. So God and I just looked at that dry well, both of us knowing there was something terribly wrong. I was barely alive.

So, God started teaching me thankfulness by showing me His goodness and opening my eyes to His good gifts. The well of my heart started filling up, and thanksgiving started spilling over. It felt good.

DAVID JAMESI know that thanksgiving should permeate all of my life. That means celebrating and being thankful, suffering and be thankful, resting and being thankful, struggling and be thankful, succeeding and being thankful, failing and being thankful. My heart’s not there yet.

But God gave me another lesson today. He showed me what a grateful heart looks like as my wife shared with me the prayer of our 8-year-old son, David:

“God, you are so good. You make everything and you share everything with us. You don’t ask us to do anything but trust you, and you give us everything. All I can say is THANK YOU.”

I can honestly say that I am thankful to God  for a son who just schooled  his father in the attitude of gratitude.

16 thoughts on “No Thanks

  1. “Just throw it on the pile with all the others.” I laughed out loud when I read that – guess I could relate. 🙂 Then welled up at your son’s prayer. I’m thankful for your blog post chockfull of emotion. I’m going into my day with a thankful heart, thanks to you.

  2. This is so wonderful…and in keeping with my morning devotions, actually. Thankfulness and trust seem to be the theme of quiet time lately…and I loved how reading your post echoed that. Your son’s prayer was the cherry on top. 🙂

    • Thank you, Melissa, for letting me know that this message was consistent with a thankfulness theme in your own meditations. I must say that the trust theme you mentioned serves as a timely reminder for me right now. So, thank you for that, too. And, yeah, the boy’s prayer just melted my heart.

    • CJ was, once again, reading over my shoulder. Her comment: “Is that Uncle Dave’s column?”
      Me: “Yes.”
      So I scrolled back up and let her read what you’d written. She gave a soft “Aaaaw” when she saw David’s photo … and her comment to his insightful prayer? “That is awesome.”
      Indeed. Indeed.

      • Thanks for sharing that, Beth. I have a feeling that this David fellow, with his “quiet spirit of faith,” will be a frequent, though unintentional, contributor to this post and to my own growth.

  3. It’s so easy to let life fill me with distraction and overwhelm me with to-do’s. When I’m at that point, I forget to be thankful. I read a book last year that challenged me to write down the gifts God gives me in each day. These are my “thankful fors.” Some days I have to purpose to look for them. It’s not always easy. But recording them helps me remember the Giver of all good gifts.

    My kiddos have practiced gratitude and realigned my perspective many times. Your boy sounds like a sweet spirit.

    • Jeanne, it is an excellent idea to be intentional about giving thanks. Recording “thankful fors” daily would probably help train my eyes to see more of God’s gifts. Thanks for sharing practice from your own experience. I think I’ll employ that practice to cultivate thankfulness in my own heart.

  4. Bless the little children!!! We can learn so much from them. And look at the situation – you learned thankfulness from David!!! Unless we become as them . . . . .

  5. Satchel Paige said that if you can’t praise God when it’s raining, don’t bother when the sun’s shining.

    Good advice, but very hard to follow, The curtain that rain puts around us limits our vision, and makes the mud stick to our feet so that even walking is an effort.

    It’;s perhaps best to start with acceptance, when things go horribly wrong. Just take what is coming, with an effort toward equanimity. A Vietnamese Buddhist priest, dying of cancer, was asked how he coped. His reply was “Sun-faced Buddha, moon-faced Buddha.”

    There is beauty in the moonlight, and there can be beauty in the rain, because when it passes, the earth is refreshed, and ready to grow again. So it may be with our hearts, if we are there, if we survive to see it.

    And if we don’t survive, we can at least rest assured that we are in good company. When Christ faced His deluge, on Good Friday, He felt abandoned. He didn’t give thanks for His agony.

    He just said, “Thy will be done.”

    • Andrew, you’ve given me a lot to think about here. You are right that it can be hard to see through the rain-curtain and difficult to take steps in the mud.

      The rain storm does bring refreshment and renewal, but, as a friend just told me, it’s still a storm. It will bring us benefit, but it has to be endured.

      I am looking to the Man of Sorrows and asking Him to show me how temporal suffering can be a gateway to joy. Suffering itself isn’t joyful. I really hate it. But He gives us access to His joy in the midst of it.

      Ultimately, if the storm doesn’t pass, but we pass in the storm, then we, like Jesus, give ourselves up into our Father’s hands. Jesus has opened up death as our doorway to life–eternal, unending joy. .

      Waiting with you for that day.

  6. Dave…loved, loved, loved this post. During the last few nights when I have been praying I’ve found myself asking for God’s blessings. So I stopped myself (or was it the Spirit who stopped me) from laying out my laundry list of ways I wanted God to bless me and said simply “Thank you”. I beginning to think there might be something to that childlike faith that Jesus talked about. Thanks for sharing the little man’s heart!

    • Yes, the little man showed me a grateful heart, a childlike faith, and pure wonder at God’s goodness and generosity. And I’m glad you reminded me to put away may laundry list and crate some space tor giving thanks. Thanks for your feedback, brother. I’m thankful for you.

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