I’m thankful. And need to learn to be more thankful. So let’s take a few days to talk about what I’m thankful for.
I’ll start with my family. I’m extremely thankful for my wife Carolina, who has put up with so much throughout our almost 24 years of marriage. I’m very proud of her as she nears completion of her master’s degree. And I’m well aware of which of us is the better preacher!
I’m thankful for my kids. I hear about all the problems people have as their children go through adolescence, and I can’t identify at all. Our kids always make us proud. Daniel is doing extremely well at ACU, while Andrea is having a stellar senior year in high school.
I’m thankful for the legacy I received from my parents and especially thankful to still be able to enjoy time with my mother. She has always been a model of dignity and grace and has surrounded her kids and grandkids with love.
I’m thankful for my mother-in-law. As I posted on Facebook yesterday (her birthday), the only thing I can complain about is not being able to tell mother-in-law jokes! She’s always made me feel more like a son than a son-in-law.
The family names in my past are ones that fill me with pride: Archer, Fulbright, Huff, Karr… they are names to live up to. As well as the families I married into: Tolosa, Rigotti… it’s quite a pedigree.
I am truly thankful.
Here’s an article I wrote for our blog on HopeForLife.org. It was also published on Heartlight.org. Just in case you missed it… :-)
In the movie Shenandoah, Charlie Anderson, Jimmy Stewart’s character, sits down to eat with his family and prays the following: “Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvest it. We cook the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat, amen.”
Whether we admit it or not, that’s a fairly common attitude. In fact, it’s so common that God warned His people about this ungratefulness thousands of years ago. In the book of Deuteronomy, He told them: “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)
The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day here in the United States. For most people, it’s a day of eating, watching sports and enjoying time off from work. Far too often, the idea of giving thanks gets lost along the way.
So what’s the point of giving thanks? I can think of several positive things that come out of our taking time to give thanks for what we have received:
- Giving thanks helps us to appreciate what we have. It’s all too easy to focus on what we don’t have rather than recognize what we’ve received. It’s healthy for us to take stock of what’s been given to us and then to give thanks for those things.
- Giving thanks helps us to be aware of those who have less. When we realize that what we have was given to us, we are better able to share with others. They are as deserving of God’s blessings as we are.
- Giving thanks gives us more security for the future. When I realize that blessings don’t depend purely on my strength, I can be more confident going forward. Just as God has blessed me now, He can bless me in the future.
- Giving thanks is the right thing to do. We teach our children to do it, yet sometimes forget to do it ourselves. God is pleased when we give thanks to Him.
If you don’t feel close to God at this time, maybe giving thanks to Him is a good way to begin fixing that relationship. Take some time to recognize the good things that He’s done. We have lots of time for complaining about the bad; let’s stop now and thank Him for the good. It will do us a world of good.
So what are some proper attitudes toward food? Here are my suggestions:
- Thankfulness toward God: I think this needs to be present every time we eat. I also think this goes beyond merely saying “Thank you for this food” at the beginning of a meal. I know that we won’t be conscious of God every time we take a bite (though that would be a nice goal), but we should be aware that everything that we have received is because of him.
- Thankfulness to those who made it possible for us to eat: This can be the one who cooked the food. Or set the table. Or gave us the job to earn the money to buy the food. Or any of a number of people. Our primary gratitude is to God, but we should also be thankful for the people in our lives.
- Awareness of what we’re eating: I’m a terribly fast eater. It’s a bad habit that I’d like to overcome. I want to learn to taste what I’m eating. To think about the flavors that God put in the food. I want to learn to savor and enjoy food, not because of quantity but because of what it is.
- Awareness of who we’re eating with: This goes back to Tuesday’s blog. We need to recognize the significance of eating with other people. And we do this by being aware of them as we eat.
- Awareness of those that lack: That’s one’s tough, and it might even cut into my enjoyment a bit. Hopefully it will curb my overeating a bit! I live in a country with an abundance of food, both in quantity and variety. Many would love to have either of those, let alone both. As I eat thankfully and thoughtfully, may I be aware of those who go without.
Those are my top five. Any comments on those? What would you add?