One of my daughters lives in another state, so we try to write letters to each other now and then. To encourage our writing, we sometimes pick a “theme” to think and write about. Last year around Thanksgiving, we chose to discuss “what are you thankful for?” Guess what? Neither of us put anything having to do with success, money or things on our “thankful” list. Neither list included a promotion or bonus, stylish clothing, a cruise or a face lift. Instead our lists mentioned God (our faith, our church), other people (family, friends), a job to provide for our daily needs, and good health so that we could do the things we enjoyed and be able to serve others.
Does this mean my daughter and I are especially good people? I don’t think so. I believe that most of us, if asked to stop and think seriously about the important things in life, would come up with a very similar list.
The real puzzler is this– why we don’t live according to what we know in our hearts is most important? We get caught up in the day to day so easily that it often seems like the small things –shopping, earning more money, redecorating our home or buying a better car – are the big things. We take for granted the daily blessings we receive through God’s grace.
Spending more time in God’s word would remind us of our true priorities. In the book of Ecclesiastes, “the preacher” tells us that most of the things we strive for are “vanity” or in another translation “meaningless.” He advises us to find pleasure in ordinary, daily life : “eat your bread with joy” (Ecclesiastes 9:7); “enjoy life with the wife whom you love (Ecclesiastes 9:9) and “find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun.” Then he adds, “this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:20)
This year I want to remind myself that thanksgiving is not simply a day, it is a right attitude toward God every day. If I am constantly “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2) I will be thankful all the time. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(Psalm 118:24)