Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thank You, Dear Lord

It's two days before Thanksgiving: what are you thankful for? A church acquaintance, volunteering at a ministry for the homeless, recently posed that very question to a group of clients who had as much excuse as anyone to insist there was absolutely nothing good in their lives. Still, a moment's thought revealed how much they still had: "Thank You, Lord, for my children." "Thank You, Lord, that I escaped a dangerous home situation." "Thank You, Lord, that I am still alive and healthy."

Many hospice workers and many missionaries to the poverty-stricken can tell similar stories. Sometimes it seems as if those who have little are more thankful than those who have much. Indeed, children of extremely wealthy families have a reputation for whining; high-powered executives are notorious for their high stress levels; and we "ordinary citizens" of materially blessed societies seem to have eyes only for the things we lack. I make no claims of immunity. At the moment, I am well along in the process of giving myself high blood pressure worrying about my blood pressure (leaving plenty of "anxiety room" for other health issues, along with financial fretting, business headaches, and fear of spoiled plans)--and full in the face of knowing better. To paraphrase St. Paul in Rom. 7:14-25, my mind and conscience know full well what my attitudes should be, but my emotions (and physiological functions) refuse to cooperate.

Is there any cure? As Paul implies, only the power of Christ through the Holy Spirit. God does, however, expect some cooperation on our part. Thinking frequently of "things above, not earthly things" (cf. Col. 3:2) is one of our responsibilities in the process. Being patient is another; rather than making instant major changes in us, God generally prefers to guide us slowly into deeper relationship with Him.

A third way to cooperate in our own sanctification is the simple thankfulness described above. Try it this week; instead of limiting "what I'm thankful for" to a one-sentence contribution at the Thanksgiving dinner table, expand your thankfulness over several days. Before every meal and before going to sleep, remember at least one thing in your life that you're thankful for.

And don't just "count your blessings." Say a direct "Thank You" to their Source.

Thank You, dear Lord, for the food You provide;
Thank You, dear Lord, for the needs You've supplied;
Thank You, dear Lord, for our gifts, and each skill:
May we use all, every day, as You will.

Thank You, dear Lord, for the lakes and the sea;
Thank You, dear Lord, for the birds that fly free;
Thank You, dear Lord, for the rainbows and stars:
All of the wonders in this world called ours.

Thank You, dear Lord, for our families and friends;
Thank You, dear Lord, for each joy Your love sends;
Thank You, dear Lord, for each hour that we live:
You give so freely--now teach us to give.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love reading all that you write. Thank you for simple reminders. You remain in my daily prayers.
your neighbor, Mary