Forgetting to be thankful for the small things in our lives can be so easy to do. Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful because things aren’t the way we want them to be. This time of year, as Thanksgiving approaches, we are encouraged to look around and take note of the blessings in our lives and to express our thanks to those around us. I want to share a little story of something that happened in our home several years ago. Through the years, this event has been a constant reminder to me that we should make the choice to have an attitude of thanksgiving, despite our circumstances.
No Complaining Allowed!
Everyone has their preferences when it comes to food, which makes finding a meal that pleases everyone rather difficult, especially in a family the size of ours. Many years ago, I got tired of hearing someone state their disappointment as we served the meal, so I simply banned complaints. I made it known that I expected them to eat what they were served without any disgruntled remarks. Their other option was to join us at the table and quietly go without eating.
One morning as I served the oatmeal, one sweet little girl decided to test my resolve in the matter. She worked up a really sad face and big puppy dog eyes and told me how much she didn’t like oatmeal, as if I had never heard her opinion on the matter before. I kept going as if I hadn’t heard her while the other children reminded her of the new policy, but she apparently didn’t believe that I was serious, so she continued to express herself and then began to cry. I explained that if she didn’t want oatmeal, the next meal was lunch and she could wait until then to eat but she could not sit there and cry and ruin everyone else’s meal. If she insisted on crying she needed to do it in the comfort of her own room. She insisted! The rest of the family enjoyed their breakfast as she cried in her bedroom.
Mid-morning she let me know she was hungry, but I assured her that she would survive until lunch time. As lunch was served, we gathered around the table ready to enjoy the food and the time together. No one was even tempted to complain this time around and to our amazement the same little girl that had skipped breakfast blessed our meal for us. Her prayer was a simple one that still sticks with me today, “Dear Father in Heaven, Thank you for our food, and help us to be thankful for what we have been gaven! Amen”
The Power of an Imperfect Prayer
That simple prayer, with its imperfect grammar, has been a constant reminder to me over the years to be thankful for what I have been “gaven” even when it isn’t perfect! Rarely is anything perfect, so it’s far better to learn to be thankful for things as they are rather than waiting until they arrive at perfection. In II Corinthians 12:9, Paul tells how the Lord’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. These obstacles in our lives that are imperfect or show our weaknesses drive us to the Lord so that we may find strength in Him. They provide opportunity for us to grow and develop Godly character.
Scripture tells us to give thanks in all things, not just the wonderful things, but all things. It’s a matter of obedience; it’s a matter of the heart. It’s about deciding that despite the flaws and imperfections of the circumstances, I will make a choice to be thankful. Once the choice is made, my attitude changes and the blessings begin to flow in my life. It’s a lesson that I have to relearn from time to time, but one I hope I will never completely forget!
Lord, my prayer is that You will help us all to be “Thankful for what we have been gaven!”